Every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people come down with the flu and of those, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands or tens of thousands die from flu-related causes every year. Statistics show that getting a seasonal flu vaccine is the most effective way to help protect you from the flu.
Why Should You Get a Flu Shot?
It is recommended that just about everyone get a flu vaccine every year. Yet, the CDC reports that only about 47 percent of Americans got a flu shot last year and 80,000 died, a record number. And it’s not just the elderly or chronically ill people who are hit hard; many who die each year are young children who were healthy before contracting the flu.
Which Flu Vaccine is Right for You?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with a vaccine that is age-appropriate. Factors that affect what kind of vaccine, if any, you should get include:
- Your age
- Your current and past health
- Any allergies you may have to the flu vaccine or its components
Types of Flu Shots
1. The Flu Vaccine Shot
There are many different flu vaccines available, produced by different manufacturers, including a high-dose vaccine for people 65 and over and vaccines formulated for children and infants.
Certain conditions can be detrimental to your vaccination response. Talk to your doctor if you:
- Are severely allergic to eggs or a vaccine ingredient such as antibiotics or gelatin, for example.
- Have ever had Guillain-Barre (GBS).
- If you are feeling ill when you go in for a vaccination.
2. Nasal Spray Vaccine
The nasal spray vaccine is for healthy, non-pregnant people two through 49 years of age. It can be an option for people who have a problem with needles too, but not everyone is a good candidate.
Nasal spray vaccines, which are “live”, should not be taken by:
- Children younger than two years old
- Adults 50 years old or more
- Pregnant women
- People that have a history of severe allergic reaction to anything that is in the vaccine or to a dose of any flu vaccine taken in previous years.
- Anyone two through 17 years of age who are receiving medications containing aspirin or salicylate.
- People with weakened immune systems.
- Children two to four years old who have asthma or have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
- Anyone who has taken influenza antiviral drugs within the last 48 hours.
- People who care for people who are severely immunocompromised and require a protected environment.
The CDC recommends that people with one of the following conditions talk with a healthcare provider before using a nasal spray vaccine:
- Someone aged five years or older with asthma.
- Underlying medical conditions that can put the person at a higher risk of serious flu complications. Examples are: chronic lung disease, heart disease (except isolated hypertension), kidney disease, liver disorders, neurologic and neuromuscular disorder, blood or metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
- Moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks following a previous influenza vaccine dose.
To make sure all of your possible medical issues before getting a flu shot, whether as a flu shot or nasal spray, talk to a medical professional who can determine which flu shot is best for you.
Some Things to Keep in Mind
Flu strains vary from year to year, so each season’s flu vaccine formulations are reviewed and updated annually. Sometimes one or more viruses that spread around during flu season are different from the strains vaccines in any particular year were formulated to fend off, so immunizations are not as effective for those particular strains.
Some Other Things to Consider
- Even if the flu strain affecting you isn’t one that matches a strain a vaccine was formulated to combat, the vaccine can still help. It’s been shown that in such situations the risk of having to go to the doctor because of the flu is cut by 40 to 60 percent.
- A flu vaccine can’t give you the flu.
- It generally takes about two weeks for a vaccination to take effect.
- Getting vaccinated may also protect the people you interact with.
- While the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine by the end of October, being vaccinated later can still be beneficial and is typically offered even into January or later.
Get Your Flu Vaccination This Season
When you are vaccinated for the flu, you protect yourself from possible severe illness and even hospitalization. You also protect those around you. The CDC suggests using HealthMap Vaccine Finder to determine where you can get a flu shot in your area. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover flu shot free of charge and most pharmacies and clinics charge little or nothing for vaccinations. If you need health related insurance or latest news, please check EINSURANCE.com.