6 Things You Need to Know About Flu Shot

By: Janice Quirt
It's the flu season again, and it's time to think about the flu shot. Maybe you get it every year, or have never gotten one. Perhaps you mean to get it but forget, or have some concerns or questions.
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Here are 6 things that you need to know about the flu shots:
  1. It is not too late to get a flu shot
Its best to get the flu shot early, but you can still get one now.

Many Canadian pharmacies offer the flu vaccine for free without an appointment.

You can also ask your health care practitioner about getting a shot.

Flu shot is your best defence against getting the flu and potentially getting very ill.

Also, by vaccinating yourself, you are reducing the risk of spreading it to more vulnerable like babies, elderly, or people with medical conditions and who are most likely to experience complications and even hospitalization arising from the flu.

  1. Even kids can get the flu shot
Anyone 6 months or older can get the flu shot.

Most people, including babies, dont have any reaction to the shot, and severe reactions are rare. However, the benefits to babies, kids and everyone are enormous.

Children from 6 months to 8 years of age, who have never received the flu shot, or who have only received one dose ever of the flu shot, will need a double dose.

Its best if the first dose is received as soon as supplies become available. For 2016-17, the nasal flu vaccine is not recommended because concerns about how well it works.
  1. You need to get the flu shot every year
Every year researchers and scientists work diligently to try to predict which strains of the flu will account for the most cases in any given season.

They select 3-4 flu strains for the flu shot based on these predictions. This results in the flu shot being different every year in an effort to be the most effective for that flu season. In addition, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine can wear off.

This means you need a new flu shot every year to maintain your protection.
  1. You cant get the flu from the flu shot
Some people seem to think that they can get flu from the flu shot, but that isnt the case.

The flu shot is made with inactivated flu viruses, which are not infectious.

What people may consider flu symptoms are likely reactions to the flu shot, including soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was given.
  1. You can still get sick with other respiratory illnesses
Even if you get the flu shot you can still develop a rhinovirus (the common cold) or a bacterial infection like strep throat or bronchitis.

The flu shot only protects against the specific strains of flu included in the vaccine, so you could theoretically get sick from a strain of flu different from those in the shot.

Additionally, if someone was exposed to the flu shortly before or after getting the flu shot, they could still get the flu.

It takes the body two weeks after getting the flu shot to develop immune protection, so if you come into contact before that time is up you could still get the flu.
  1. Is it better to get immunity by having the flu itself rather than the flu shot?
The flu can make people very ill, especially young children or the elderly. The flu can result in serious complications. It is not worth risking these complications or passing the flu along to someone who could get extremely ill from the flu just to try to get a more complete immune protection.

The flu shot is a much safer alternative.
This article, and the products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please see your health care provider before taking any supplements or starting a new program.

Janice Quirt is a medical writer based in Orangeville, Ontario.

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