October marks the start of the flu season and Northwest Health Services strongly encourages families to get their vaccinations. Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated. A flu shot not only protects yourself from sickness but you can help protect others in your family (children under 6 months who cannot be vaccinated and elderly) and the community.
Specific people that are at high risk for flu complications can be:
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two-years-old.
- Adults 65 years of age and older.
- Pregnant women.
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- Individuals with medical conditions like asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes etc.
Occasionally you may hear about decreased effectiveness of the flu shot. Last year’s flu shot was less effective than what is normally expected. The Flu can mutate and there can be dozens of different strains. This shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid getting a flu shot. One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalization among adults of all ages (CDC).
Health experts say everyone over the age of 6 months (especially the elderly, children and pregnant women) should get the vaccine as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks for a person to develop all the necessary antibodies to combat the flu.
Possible side effects include pain/redness/swelling at the site of injection, muscle aches, headache, low grade fever, or tiredness. The flu vaccine CANNOT give you the flu as it is not a live virus. The side effects are an appropriate immune reaction to the vaccine and are limited to 24-48 hours.