Why Do I Need a Flu Shot Every Year?
Flu viruses are constantly changing, and each year different flu viruses circulate and cause illness. Flu vaccines are made differently each year to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common. This is why everyone needs a flu shot every season.
What is Influenza?
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. Even healthy people can become sick with the flu and experience serious complications. such as pneumonia and bronchitis. But even if you are one of the lucky ones who bounce back quickly from a bout with the flu, people around you might not be so lucky. Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.
Who Needs a Flu Shot?
As long as you don’t have allergies to any of the components of a vaccine, you should take advantage of the opportunity to prevent illness. Flu shots are especially important for the following people:
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
- Pregnant women
- People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older
- Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
- Household contacts and caregivers of infants younger than 6 months old
- Health care personnel
- People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications
Can the Flu Shot Give Me the Flu?
No. According to the CDC, Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses. However, the viruses are attenuated (weakened), and therefore cannot cause flu illness.
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of bad case of flu.
Where can I get a flu shot?
There are many locations across the community that provide flu shots, including your primary care physician, local pharmacies, and your local health department office. To schedule an appointment for a flu shot, please contact your local health department office. The cost for a flu shot is $25 and insurance is welcome.