Along with cold and ice, the winter months usually bring the peak 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
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: 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.
To make an appointment with a healthcare provider to get vaccinated, visit