The fall season is upon us. While we enjoy the colors of the leaves changing and look forward to holidays just around the corner, fall brings along it’s ugly partner: the flu. The last thing you need is a nasty sickness to slow you down, so before the weather starts to get colder, you may want to consider getting the flu shot before before the flu gets you.

Medical specialists tend to look at the Southern hemisphere in order to predict how our flu season is going to turn out since they are on opposite seasonal schedules with us. This year the Southern hemisphere had a harsh flu season, so they are anticipating a pretty rough flu season for us too. Before you make your decision on whether or not to get the vaccine, take a look at some of the major pros and cons.

Cons

  • You might get some side effects. A small portion of the population may get some side effects. Typically these side effects only last a day and are rather mild, consisting of a headache, some swelling, or redness around the injection site. On the more extreme side you may get a fever or some nausea. Contrary to one people think, these are just side effects. The vaccine contains a weakened form of the virus that cannot actually give you influenza.
  • Flu shots require a little time to take full effect. Hold off on hanging around friends or family that are infected with the virus. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect in your immune system. Be patient and be precautious in the meantime so that you give enough time for the vaccine to kick in and build up your immune system.
  • It’s still is possible to get the flu. You might be pretty ticked-off if you go to get a flu-shot only to end up coming down with the flu soon this season. Unfortunately, the flu vaccine only covers 3 to 4 strands. There are dozens of strands that exist but typically it covers the most common strands which this year include H1N1, H3N2, and B/Victoria lineage. You’re less likely to get these strands, but unfortunately they can mutate when transferred from person to person.
  • Needles are the only advised way to get it. In previous years, nasal sprays vaccines were a viable option and recommended for pregnant women and those who are not fond of needles. However these vaccines were found to be far less effective, so this year the CDC only recommends injectable vaccines.

Pros

  • Your chances of getting the flu are dramatically less! While it is still possible to get some strand of the flu after receiving the vaccine, the CDC claims that you are about 60% less likely to come down with the flu after receiving a flu shot. However, this number does vary each year and can depend on the strength of the common viruses and the strength of the vaccine.
  • It’s safe even for those with egg allergies. In the past, people with egg allergies have been warned not to get the flu shot due to the fact that the vaccine contains some egg in it. However, researchers from medical associations such as the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology have recently stated that the vaccine now contains such a small amount of egg, that it is highly unlikely to get any type of serious allergic reaction to the flu shot, and they recommend even those who are allergic to still receive the shot.
  • There’s a flu shot created specifically for the elderly. People 65 and older are eligible to receive a flu vaccine that contains four times the amount of antigen than a regular flu shot. This Fluzone High Dose vaccine is recommended for the elderly due to the fact that they have considerably weaker immune systems than those below the age of 65.
  • They’re Often free or low-cost. More and more companies are starting to offer free flu shots to their employees.If your employer does not provide it, check with you physician. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of the flu-shot without any co-payment, and those who have Medicare Part B are also able for a free shot. You can even check your county Health Department who offers them for free to children and the elderly, and sometimes those in between. If you do not have insurance and cannot get it for free, places like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, and even Sam’s Club and Costco sell flu shots even to those without memberships for as little as $19.99 – $39.99.

On average, 5 – 20% of the entire U.S. population get the flu each year, and about 200,000 are hospitalized from it each year. While there are significant pros and cons to getting the vaccine, the CDC still advises that most everyone should get the flu shot each year. However, if you are unsure of whether or not you are a good candidate for the vaccine, be sure to talk to your physician.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm
http://health.costhelper.com/flu-shot.html
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/08/health/flu-season-vaccine-effectiveness-study/index.html
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2017/11/06/people-egg-allergies-now-ok-get-annual-flu-shot/824688001/

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