Ewwww - The Flu
Protect Yourself And Your Family This Flu SeasonRobert | Family Medicine Dec 20, 2019
About the author: Dr. Alison Shmerling is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine. She cares for patients at UCHealth Family Medicine in Westminster, Colorado.
Back to school season brings with it new stuffy noses, coughs, and dreadfully the start of the annual flu epidemic. The good news is that the flu is largely preventable with a single annual vaccine for most people.
But, can’t I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
Most patients will be receiving an inactivated vaccine. This means the immunization contains a part of the virus, so that your immune system knows how to fight the flu virus, but it’s not the actual whole or live virus. What does this mean? That fortunately you cannot get the flu from this flu shot! You can get the flu (or another respiratory illness) from exposure to other sick patients, and some individuals get a fever for about 24 hours after getting the vaccine, but they will not have gotten the flu from the flu shot.
Who should get the vaccine?
As I always tell my patients, almost everyone is eligible, and I worry most about my “old ladies, little babies and pregnant ladies”. Older adults, young children, and pregnant women are high risk populations for life threatening complications from the flu, and are highly recommended to get vaccinated. Additionally, if you are around any of these populations regularly, caring for a child or an older relative, or working in healthcare or childcare, you should get the vaccine to protect not only yourself, but also your loved ones and people around you. Although these populations are the highest risk to get very sick from the flu, anyone can get sick enough to require hospitalization from this virus, and so we recommend every eligible person get the vaccine.
I got the vaccine last year, isn’t that enough?
Unfortunately, the flu virus evolves and changes each year. You might remember the “Swine Flu” epidemic from 2009. This was a specifically high risk strain that circulated that year. Since each year the epidemic is slightly different, we need to create a new vaccine each year, and individuals should get their shot annually.
If you are unsure if you can get the flu shot, or unsure if you have symptoms of the flu, please contact your doctor. If you need a doctor, you can find one HERE.