Flu Season: To vaccinate or not?

Dr. Schreiber of San Augustine

Flu season is something you hear about a lot. It typically refers to a period of time between late fall and the winter where flu seems to be most rampant. This is why right now you may be seeing a lot of places that are pushing for flu vaccines… Drug stores, specifically, are warning about the dangers of the flu and who should get a free or low-cost vaccination.

There is often debate over whether a flu vaccine is worth it. Many people argue that they get “sick” directly after receiving a flu vaccine, and others believe that they have gotten –more- sick than they would have without the vaccine. So who should get a flu vaccine and does it really work?

The no-brainer Flu Vaccination

If you fall under any of these descriptors you should get a flu vaccine, whether you like it or not.

  • You are 6 months to 4 years old in age
  • You are 50+ years of age
  • You suffer from an immunosuppressive disorder or take immunosuppressive medications
  • You suffer from a chronic pulmonary disorder (including asthma)
  • You suffer from a chronic cardiovascular disorder
  • You suffer from a renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic, or metabolic disorder
  • You are a resident of a nursing home or chronic care facility
  • You work in a health care industry such as home care, or you are a caregiver of an individual with a chronic condition
  • You are extremely obese
  • You are an American Indian or Alaskan native
  • You are age 6 months through 18 years and are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

I’m not on the list: I’m eligible. But last year I got sick after my flu shot

It is an often felt misconception about the flu vaccine that you can actually get sick from the vaccination. The way the vaccination works is that an “inactive” version of the flu is injected into your body, allowing your body to build up a resistance to the flu before you are ever infected. Just like when you get a scratch or a bug bite and the affected area swells up, it is a natural immune response to feel some minor flu-like symptoms which may include runny nose, itchy eyes and nose, coughing, sore throat, fever, and aching body. These symptoms dissipate much quicker than if you were infected by the flu, and they’re certainly not contagious. You’re NOT sick, it’s just your body amping up for a bigger attack!

Is it better to get the flu than the vaccine?

While nowadays it may seem like the flu is “no big thing”, people every year die from influenza. The severity of the strain of flu you might catch can range from not life threatening at all, to total organ failure including brain damage. We don’t say this to scare you, but it’s important to know the reality.

Do I have to get one every year?

YES! Each year the vaccination is different from the last one, as the strain of flu changes constantly. Just like you would update your applications on your phone or computer to patch up any holes or exploits hackers could make their way through and really damage your device, you should do the same with your body and make sure you get that flu vaccine every year.

Who shouldn’t get the flu vaccine?

These people may want to hold off. Speak with your primary care doctor before attempting a flu shot.

  • You are less than 6 months of age
  • You are allergic to eggs, gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients that can be found in the flu vaccination
  • You are pregnant or nursing

Schedule an appointment today with your primary care doctor to get a jump start on your flu vaccination for the year! You won’t be sorry!

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