With the arrival of flu season, you may be wondering if you really need to get a flu shot this year.
The flu is a respiratory infection with potential symptoms that include fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, runny nose, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Getting a flu shot can help keep you from contracting the flu this season.
Who should get the flu shot?
Even if you're healthy, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that anyone six months and older get the annual flu shot. Variations of the flu shot are approved for individuals of different ages, as well as for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. A high-dose flu shot is available for individuals 65 and older, as the elderly are at higher risk of serious complications from the flu.
People with certain health conditions are more susceptible to complications from the flu. If you have any of the following health conditions, it’s especially important that you get a flu shot:
- Heart or lung disease
- Depressed immune system, cancer or HIV/AIDS
People who are over age 65, younger than five or who live with or take care of someone at high risk should also get the flu shot. Children six months to eight years old may need two doses of the flu vaccine administered at least four weeks apart for full protection.
Who should not get the flu shot?
Infants younger than six months are too young for the flu shot. Individuals who have severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in the flu vaccine — such as gluten or antibiotics — should not get the vaccination.
If you are not feeling well, have an allergy to eggs, have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a paralyzing illness) or have had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine, talk to your doctor before getting the flu shot.
What is the flu vaccine?
Each year, the flu shot is developed using inactivated flu viruses that are intended to protect against the strains of the flu that are expected in that particular year. Because the vaccine is made with a virus that has been killed, the shot will not cause you to get the flu.
The flu shot does not provide 100 percent protection from the flu, but according to the CDC, it is typically 71 percent effective in reducing flu-related hospitalizations in adults and 74 percent effective in reducing hospitalizations in children.
After getting the flu shot, it takes the body up to two weeks to build immunity, so it's recommended you get the shot before flu season starts. However, getting the flu shot will still benefit you even after flu season begins.
You can get a flu shot in your doctor’s office or at most pharmacies.
Help those in need this flu season during our Buy One, Donate One flu shot clinic from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday, October 17, at the First Mennonite Church, 203. E. Lawrence St., in Middlebury. Receive a $1 discount for each non-perishable food item, hygiene product or laundry item brought in at the time of your flu shot. Maximum discount of up to $10. Donations will also be accepted to help provide flu shots for those in need in the Middlebury community. For more information, call (574) 364-2496.