Hit me with your Flu Shot!
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause symptoms including fever, coughing, chills, body aches, and fatigue. Flu season strikes every year, and the virus can spread rapidly in schools and workplaces. Some people who get the flu recover without complications in about one to two weeks.
1. Flu season is between October and May Some people get seasonal flu as early as October, with infections continuing through May.
2. The flu is contagious before symptoms start
The flu is highly contagious partly because it’s possible to pass the virus on before you become sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can infect someone with the virus one day before your symptoms start. You’re most contagious within the first three to four days of becoming ill, although you may remain contagious for up to five to seven days after you become sick.
3. Flu symptoms can start abruptly
Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself against the influenza virus. Get the shot early so antibodies can develop. This takes about 2 weeks.
Symptoms may include:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Not every one has a fever
5. You need a new flu vaccine every year
The predominant flu viruses circulating this season will differ from next year’s viruses. This is because the virus undergoes changes each year. Therefore, you’ll need a new vaccine every year to protect yourself.
6. The flu vaccine does not cause the flu
The Flu virus causes the Flu!
One misconception is that the flu vaccine causes the flu. One variety of the flu shot does include a severely weakened form of the flu virus. It doesn’t cause real infection, but it allows your body to develop necessary antibodies. Another variety of the flu shot only includes dead, or inactivated virus.
Some people do experience mild flu-like symptoms after getting a vaccine. This can include a low-grade fever and body aches. But this isn’t the flu and these symptoms typically only last one to two days.
7. The flu can cause life-threatening complications
- people who are at least 65 years old
- young children, especially those under 2 years old
- pregnant women and women who are up to two weeks postpartum
- people who have a weakened immune system
- people who have chronic conditions
- Native Americans (American Indians and Alaska Natives)
- people with extreme obesity, or a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40
However, anyone can develop severe complications.
The flu virus can also trigger secondary infections. Some infections are minor, such as an ear infection or a sinus infection.
8. You can still get the flu after a vaccination
It is possible to get the flu after receiving a vaccination. This can happen if you become infected with the virus before your vaccine is effective, or if the flu vaccine does not provide adequate coverage against the predominant circulating virus. The vaccine is developed based on last year’s virus.
Additionally, you can become sick if you come in contact with a strain of the virus that is different than the one you were vaccinated against. On average, the flu vaccine reduces the risk of illness by between 40-60%.
9. There are different types of flu vaccines
The CDC currently recommends either an injectable flu vaccine or a live attenuated intranasal flu vaccine.
1. Wear a mask when around others. The past year Flu cases were very low due to masking.
2. Cover your mouth when coughing, cough and sneeze into your arm
3. Wash your hands
4. Take Tylenol for fever and aches
The CDC recommends baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza) for flu. They are most effective when given within 48 hours after symptoms start to appear.
Ask your physician which one is right for you.
10. People with egg allergies can still receive a flu vaccine
Talk to your physician:
Your doctor may administer a vaccine that does not contain eggs, or have a doctor that specializes in allergies administer the vaccine so they can treat any potential reaction.
To your good health, Cathy Gegaris