The point of a flu shot

Needles are not one of my faves, but sometimes they are necessary. My yearly flu shot is one of those times.

Why bother? Many studies estimate that adults miss an estimated 150 million workdays per year due to the flu. And kids miss an average of 189 million school days per year, and their parents an average of 126 million days per year to stay home to take care of them. This adds up to the estimated grand total of economic loss in the US associated with the flu,…..(drum roll)…. in excess of $20 billion per year. Yikes! That’s nothing to sneeze at!

You probably know how important it is to get vaccinated. But, just in case you don’t, and currently find yourself sitting on the flu vaccination fence, might I  suggest you now take a leap to the healthier side of the fence? Get vaccinated! If you don’t get it, you can’t spread it. If less people are spreading it, less people are getting it. And so on, and so on…

I say flu, you say influenza – same diff

Influenza is a virus. If you have the flu, you are contagious one day before symptoms start and remain contagious for five to seven days. This means, you may pass on the flu to others before you even know you have it. Sneaky huh? The virus is spread through the air in droplets from a sneeze, a cough or even talking, and can be contracted if standing within six feet of a person who is infected.

Note: Antibiotics do not work to treat viral illnesses. All you can do is manage your symptoms and wait for it to go away, which takes time.

The vaccine – what you need to know

The standard flu shot is usually given in the arm. It is inactivated, which means it doesn’t contain any live virus. It is given once a year, usually just before the start of flu season (um, like NOW), and lasts from several months to a year.

The flu virus changes more than Cher on a concert tour. So, each year the vaccine is a new mixture prepared to protect against three or four of the most common strains expected to be active in the upcoming flu season.

Getting vaccinated does not mean you won’t get the flu, but you won’t likely get the strains you were vaccinated against.

It takes two weeks for your immune system to build immunity, and the vaccine to become protective – another reason why getting vaccinated now is anti-viral savvy.

Myth buster: The flu shot won’t give you the flu. Feeling yucky a day of two after the vaccine is usually the result of your body being busy making antibodies.

Deal breakers

There are only a few acceptable excuses for not getting vaccinated, and “I didn’t want to” is not on the list.

~ Allergy to eggs or a history of a severe influenza vaccine reaction, such as Guillain–Barré Syndrome

~ Current illness,…wait until you are feeling better to get vaccinated

The who’s who for vaccination

People six months and older should be vaccinated. So yeah, pretty much everyone.

Vaccination is uber important for kids, older adults, pregnant chicks and anyone with a compromised immune system – because if they get the flu they are at increased risk of developing serious complications. How serious? Death. That’s how serious. Influenza is a week of drippy inconvenience for most healthy people, but for grandma, complications can be deadly – 90% of deaths associated with influenza occur in people over the age of sixty-five.

Flu News:

~ Kids from six months to two years old need two doses, given twenty-eight days apart.

~ If you are healthy, not pregnant and between the ages of two and fifty, you are eligible to pass on the needle and opt for a nasal spray. However, the intranasal vaccine contains an activated live virus, so you absolutely must be healthy to use this form of vaccination.

~ There is a new shot that can be given just under the skin for ages eighteen to sixty-four. Smaller needle, not so bad.

~ Egg-free injections are now available – egg-actly what we’ve been waiting for! One less excuse for not getting vaccinated.

Where to go – get pointed in the right direction

OMG they are currently being offered almost everywhere. Your general practitioner is an obvious choice but if you don’t want to bother making an appointment, there are plenty of other options. Many pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens offer flu shots for about twenty bucks. To find the flu-shot-spot nearest to you, check out the following sites…

Flu Shot Health Map

American Lung Association

Find a Flu Shot

For more information on influenza and vaccination, visit the CDC or speak with your healthcare practitioner.

CDC

Flu.gov

World Health Organization

I got my flu shot last week. Yeah, it’s good to be part of the solution. We all still need to take precautions like covering coughs, frequent hand washing and staying home if sick.

Flu season lasts from mid-October to early May, so carpe diem and get your flu shot today.