You may have noticed signs popping up at your local drugstore announcing the availability of flu shots; tables at the front of Walmart stores are offering vaccines. Target is selling “On the spot flu shots, walk-ins welcomed.” With summer barely over, no one want to think about fevers and body aches, but you and your family need flu shots before the flu virus enters your home.
Manufacturers of the influenza vaccine have begun shipping for the 2012-2013 flu season. While there currently is little flu activity across the country, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urge anyone over the age of 6 months to get the vaccination as cases of flu tend to increase mid-October; flu season runs through May.
Who should get a flu shot?
Almost everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot. Seniors, children under the age of 5, pregnant woman and those with medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma have a high risk of developing serious complications from the flu and should seek vaccinations as soon as they become available.
While infants less than 6 months old have an increased susceptibility to flu complications, they are too young for the vaccination. It is important that an infant’s caregivers are protected against the flu virus.
People with severe egg allergies, or who have a history of allergic reactions to flu vaccines, including Guillain–Barré Syndrome, should not get a flu shot.
Are there different types of shots?
This year vaccine clinics are offering three types of shots: a regular flu shot, a high-dose flu shot designed for people aged 65 and older, and an intradermal flu shot. The intradermal flu shot was introduced last flu season and, unlike the regular shot that is injected into muscle, the intradermal uses a small needle to inject the vaccine into the skin. This shot is only recommended for people between the ages of 18 and 65. The flu vaccine is also available as a nasal spray, recommended for use with people aged 2 – 49 who are healthy and not pregnant.
Can you get the flu from a flu shot?
Influenza vaccine is made with inactive virus. You cannot get the flu from a dead virus.
What are the side effects?
Soreness or redness may occur at the site of the injection. Some may experience a low-grade fever and aches after receiving the vaccination. These symptoms arise as the immune system creates antibodies to protect itself. Think of it as war preparations.
The intradermal shot may cause itching at the injection site. These side effects last one or two days.
In very rare cases, the CDC estimates one in one-million, the vaccine can lead to Guillain–Barré Syndrome, a disorder that can result in nerve damage.
Where can I get a flu shot?
Flu vaccines are widely available at pharmacies and retail outlets. You can always get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or a community health clinic. The CDC website has a flu vaccine locator widget to assist in locating a clinic in your area.
Will my health insurance cover the cost of my family’s flu shots?
Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), health insurance policies issued after September 23, 2010 must fully cover the cost of the influenza vaccine. Policies issued before the law took effect may not cover flu shots, or may require a co-payment.