Flu Shot Safety Concerns

Key Facts For Receiving A Flu ShotHave you gotten your flu shot this year?  Influenza is a deadly infectious disease that returns every year, threatening young and old alike.  According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, the virus kills on average 36,000 Americans annually, a terrible toll—almost as many as die from auto accidents, but what about flu shot safety concerns?

How The Flu Shot Works:

Flu vaccines (the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination.  These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.  Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.  Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.

Who Should Get A Flu Shot?

Doctors recommend anyone at risk for the flu should get the vaccine.  For seasonal flu, this includes:

  • Children ages 6 months to 18 years
  • Adults over age 50
  • People living in a long term care facility
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People with frequent exposure to the general public (health care workers, emergency personnel, etc.)
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone with a chronic medical condition
  • Caregivers or family members in close contact with high risk individuals

Also, the CDC now recommends flu vaccines for everyone over the age of 6 months old.

Flu Vaccine Myths:

If doctors are a bit confused over the universal recommendation for flu vaccination, the general public is guilty of some wishful thinking.

One in 10 Americans gets the flu each year.  While 90% of deaths are in the elderly, many deaths and hospitalizations occur in otherwise healthy children and adults.  And even a “mild” case of the flu will make you miserable for a week.

Key Facts For Receiving A Flu ShotYet among the 43% of Americans who say they probably or definitely won’t get their flu vaccine this year:

~71% say there are other effective ways to prevent flu (Fact: While hand washing helps, it’s not nearly as effective as vaccination).
~69% say they’re healthy, so why worry about the flu.
~62% believe the flu vaccine can cause the flu (Fact: It can’t) or cause side effects (Fact: The odds of serious harm from a flu shot are extremely small).
~51% worry about vaccine ingredients.
~47% say they never get the flu.
~35% say their immune system will be stronger if they get the flu.
~29% say they don’t believe in any vaccines.
~18% say it’s inconvenient to get vaccinated.


Possible Side Effects:

Most side effects are minor.  Some of the more common side effects include:

  • Low grade fever
  • Soreness at injection site
  • Decreased energy

If you experience any:

  • Severe swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Numbness

Contact your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room, these are signs of allergy or serious complications from the flu vaccine that could be fatal.

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About the Author ()

Originally born and raised in Woburn Massachusetts (love my Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins!) I made my trek northward to the beautiful state of Maine back in October 2003 after marrying my college sweetheart. We began a family in 2004 and I am happy to say that we have 4 happy, healthy, beautiful children that bring an amazing amount of joy to our lives! I am also a type 1 diabetic. Diagnosed back in 2006 (out of the blue), at a routine doctors visit. Diabetes has single handed-ly been the biggest obstacle that I have faced in my life. At the time I had no idea of what a roller coaster ride I would be in for, I mean really, what's a couple finger sticks a day and a couple shots of insulin for food...this will be easy, I got this! Well 2 ER visits later, I quickly found out that this was no joke, and if I wanted to see my little ones grow up, this was something that I needed to take seriously! Little by little as we began to digest all of the information that was being thrown at acting insulin, short acting insulin, lancets, test meters, test strips, ketone sticks, carb counting, food groups, glucagon emergency kits, insulin pumps, glucose monitors...OMG, my head was spinning like a top!! After a couple of crazy years, I can happily say that I am well controlled and feel absolutely amazing! Not to be lost in all of this either is the amazing support of my wife. She has been my rock! She has been with me every step of the way, from 2am finger sticks to helping me change out a failed pump in the middle of a crowded restaurant. She truly is an amazing wife and mom and I can't imaging my life without her love and support- love you babe!

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