Essential Information About Getting A Flu Shot

By:    Published: February 1, 2012

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The seasonal flu is something that most people have experienced at least once in their lives. It is especially common during the winter months and can spread quickly throughout companies, households, schools and public areas. A sneezing coworker, child or teacher can leave just about anyone feeling a little nervous during the flu season.

The Flu Shot

The flu shot is a form of vaccination that contains an inactive, or killed, version of three seasonal influenza viruses, which are grown in eggs. This form of flu vaccination is administered through a needle and can protect a person from three influenza viruses that are expected to be the most prominent for the upcoming flu season.

There is another form of flu vaccination available in the form of a nasal spray. However, the nasal spray contains active, or live, viruses that may be dangerous for certain individuals, like pregnant women or those with a weakened immune system, and is only recommended for healthy individuals aged 2 through 49 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For most people, seasonal influenza is not life threatening, but without a doubt, nobody wants to deal with it. While the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands frequently and to avoid heavily populated spaces, extra precautions should be taken, especially for those who have a weakened immune system, or may suffer from severe health complications if they were to catch the flu. This is where a seasonal flu shot can provide an added layer of protection.

Types Of Flu Shots

While a regular seasonal flu shot makes up the majority of the vaccination supply made within the United States, according to the CDC, there are several flu shots available:

  • Regular seasonal flu shot: This flu shot is injected directly into a muscle, most commonly in the upper arm. A regular flu shot is the most common type of the flu shot and can be used for anyone aged 6 months and up. It is also approved for pregnant women and those suffering from chronic medical conditions.
  • High-dose flu shot: A high-dose flu shot is typically for individuals who are aged 65 and up, and is also administered directly into muscle.
  • Intradermal flu shot: An intradermal flu shot can be used for individuals between the age of 18 and 64. This shot is injected with a needle directly into the skin.

Who Should Get A Flu Shot?

Those who might suffer from severe health complications after being infected with seasonal influenza should receive a flu shot each year. According to the CDC, the following is a list of individuals who are at a high risk for developing severe complications related to the flu:

  • Children under the age of 5 (children under the age of 2 are especially at risk).
  • Adults who are 65 years or age and older, whether they are healthy or not.
  • Pregnant women since they have a more sensitive immune system. A flu shot can also prevent pregnancy complications.
  • Those who are suffering from certain medical conditions, which include the following: asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders, blood and endocrine disorders, weakened immune system, obesity and neurological disorders.
  • Individuals who are in constant contact with high risk individuals, like health care professionals and caregivers.

Who Should Not Get A Flu Shot?

It is important to consult your physician before receiving a flu shot as there may be certain individuals who may suffer a reaction to the vaccination. The following is a list of indicators that may cause a physician to advice against a flu shot:

  • Individuals who have suffered from an allergic reaction to the inactive virus eggs.
  • Those who have suffered a serious reaction to the actual flu shot in the past.
  • Anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, also known as GBS. This is a paralytic illness that can occur after a person receives flu vaccination.

Even if you have never suffered from a reaction to the flu shot, it is recommended that you consult your physician before vaccination, especially if you are currently sick with a fever. Your doctor may advice that you receive your vaccination at a later time.

Are There Any Side Effects

One common misconception about the flu shot is that it infects an individual with the flu. This is not true. The viruses used in flu shots are inactive and cannot cause infection. There is relatively low risk for flu shots to cause a harmful reaction or death.

Side effects that may occur from getting a flu shot include:

  • Slight fever
  • Body aches and soreness
  • Swelling and redness around the area where the shot was administered
  • Itching and hardened skin where the shot was administered for intradermal flu shots

These side effects should subside shortly after the flu shot is administered, but may last up to several days.

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