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Iredell Health System Answers Flu Shot Questions

Along with the changing leaves and cooler weather, the beginning of fall means the arrival of flu season. Doctors and health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated to control the spread of the virus, but many are choosing to skip the shot.

According to the Centers for Disease control, less than half of people who were old enough to receive the vaccine got a flu shot during the 2014-2015 season. Some, like the 35% of people polled in one survey, believe the vaccine can cause the flu. Stephanie Michel, PA-C of Iredell Internal Medicine in Statesville, answers questions you may have about the safety of the vaccine.

Q: Can a flu shot make me sick?
A: No, you cannot get the flu from the influenza vaccine because the viruses are inactivated.

Q: Who should get a flu shot? Who shouldn’t get a flu shot?
A: Everyone 6 months old and older should get the influenza vaccine. There are only very few exceptions to that rule. Children younger than 6 months old cannot get the influenza vaccine. Patients who are allergic to any portion of the influenza vaccine should not get the vaccine. They do offer a recombinant vaccine that is now egg free for those patients that have an egg allergy. If you have ever had an illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, you should use caution and speak with your healthcare provider before receiving the influenza vaccine.

Q: Are there any side effects from getting the flu shot?
A: Yes, there can be side effects from the flu shot, as there are side effects with any vaccine. You may experience a local site reaction from the injection. That can include arm soreness, swelling, and redness. You may also experience a low grade fever and some body aches, which are short-lived.

Q: When should I get vaccinated?
A: The CDC is currently recommending vaccination by the end of October. It will take approximately 2 weeks for your body to develop proper antibodies against the influenza. The peak of influenza season is typically in January, however, the influenza season usually begins in early fall.

Q: How can I tell the difference between a cold and the flu?
A: Symptoms of the flu tend to be much more severe than cold symptoms and tend to come on quickly. Symptoms can include a sore throat, moderate-to-high fever, shaking chills, headache, muscle/body aches, extreme fatigue, runny/stuffy nose, and a dry/hacking cough.

Q: What should I do if I think I have the flu?
A: Certain patients should contact their physician at the first sign of the flu. These include patients over the age of 65, pregnant women, children younger than 2, patients with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications, patients with chronic lung disease or heart disease, patients with diabetes, and those living in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

Most patients do not need to contact their physician and can manage their symptoms at home. For the most part, the flu is self-limiting and will resolve spontaneously without intervention from your physician.

Click HERE to make an appointment with a healthcare provider to get vaccinated.

Categories: Wellness