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Getting a Flu Shot – What you need to know

October 10, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACaroline Hebert, RN, Manager of the Outpatient Specialty Clinics and Employee Health Services at Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford, has seen dozens of patients with influenza and witnessed firsthand the serious complications that can often result.  Now that flu season is here, be sure to read –  and heed – the important information she has provided below.  

 The 2013 Flu season is now here.

The influenza viruses are highly contagious diseases that spread throughout the United States every winter, usually between October and May.  One way of protecting yourself and your loved ones is by getting vaccinated against the “Flu.”

The influenza virus is spread very easily thru coughing, sneezing and having close contact with someone who is infected. So standing in line in the grocery store or at the bank can expose you to the flu. Anyone can get the flu, but the elderly, children, and people with certain illnesses will get sicker than most.  Unfortunately it can even lead to pneumonia, and ultimately, death.  Each year, thousands of people die from these viruses.

Here are some of the symptoms of the flu that can last for several days or more: 

Fever/chills                             Fatigue

Cough                                     Sore throat

Headache                               Muscles aches

Runny or stuffy nose

 

There are two ways to get your vaccine:

 Inactivated influenza vaccine is what is called the “Flu Shot” and does not contain any live virus. This is given with a needle into your upper arm.

  •  The live, attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine is given as a nasal spray; it does contain a weakened form of the virus.
  •  Both vaccines take two weeks to develop protection from the viruses, and this protection will last for several months to a year.

Who should not get the “Flu shot?”

  • People with severe allergies should not get the vaccine.
  • People with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should not be vaccinated.
  • Anyone who is not feeling well should wait until they’re feeling better.

If you are uncertain as to your history with any of the above restrictions, be sure to consult your physician before getting the shot.

Where can I get more detailed information on the viruses and the preferred treatments for the flu?

 The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC, publishes new information each year during flu season. You can go to their web site at www.cdc.gov or call the CDC at 1-800-232-4636.

 As another Flu season descends upon us, please remember that those around you – in grocery stores, banks, your workplace, or even in your own home –may be infected. Be sure to GET THAT VACCINATION…… and encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!