An annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting the influenza virus each year. Since the flu season can start as early as October and last as late as May, you should get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available each fall! Here is everything that you need to know about getting an annual flu shot:
1. Benefits of the Flu Shot
The primary benefit of the flu shot, of course, is the protection against the influenza virus. This is the BEST way to avoid catching the flu, but you should also wash your hands frequently to keep the flu away. You can also maintain a strong immune system with a balanced diet, regular exercise and plenty of sleep. Since the strain of flu virus changes over time, doctors create a new vaccine each year. Therefore, it is important to get vaccinated every year and preferably by November. The flu shot becomes effective in your system approximately 2 weeks after your receive the vaccine.
2. Possible Side Effects
If you have ever heard that you can actually get the flu from the flu shot, the truth is that the viruses in the flu shot are dead. Therefore, it is not possible to get the flu from receiving the vaccine. While most people have no side effects from the flu shot, some may experience a mild fever, fatigue or aches. There are others who might have swelling, redness and soreness where the shot is received. The good news is that these problems are not serious and rarely last long. If you do happen to experience any type of serious side effects such as trouble breathing, hives or a fast heartbeat, call your doctor immediately.
3. Talking to Your Doctor About the Flu Shot
If you have any questions about whether you can safely receive the flu shot vaccination, contact your doctor or pharmacist. This is especially important for those who have had a major allergic reaction to a flu shot in prior years. If you currently have a bad illness, you should hold off on your flu shot until your doctor confirms that you are physically fit to receive the vaccine. Note that it is usually fine to get the flu shot if you only have a mild illness.
4. Alternatives to the Flu Shot
If you want to receive the flu vaccine but prefer not to receive a shot, there is a nasal spray called FluMist that contains a live but weakened form of the virus. It has been approved for people between the ages of 2 and 49 who are considered healthy, not pregnant and not allergic to the flu vaccine. Another “needle-less” alternative is the jet injector vaccine with Afluria, with utilizes a tool and high pressure to deliver the vaccine. This option is available for people who are between the ages of 18 and 64.
Now that you know how an annual flu shot can protect you from the influenza virus, learn more about how Mac’s Pharmacy can help meet the healthcare needs of your residents and community. We look forward to helping you with all of your pharmaceutical needs!