Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Get The Flu Shot

Free Flu Shots - Saturday, Jan 19 (10am-1PM) at Penn State Brandywine, Tomezko Classroom (Lounge), 25 Yearsley Mill Rd, Media for more info call 610-447-3250 or 610-891-5311

1.  Why should You get a flu shot? Influenza "flu"  is a contagious disease. By getting the flu vaccine you protect yourself from influenza and may also avoid spreading it to others.

2. For most people symptoms last only a few days. They include: fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose. Young children, people 65 or older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions - such as heart, lug or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system can get much sicker.  Flu can cause high fever and pneumoniaand make existing conditions worse.

3. There are two types of influenza vaccine Inactivated (killed) given by needle injection  and Live, attenuated (weakened), this vaccine is sprayed into the nostrils and comes with its own VIS, Vaccine Information Sheet.  A "high dose" inactivated influenza vaccine is available for people 65 and older.  Ask you doctor about it. Some inactivated influenza vaccines contain thimerosal you can ask your doctor if a thimerosal-free vaccine is available. Thimerosal contains traces of mercury, a controversial ingredient in vaccines.

4. It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot and protection lasts about a year. Most flu outbreaks occur anytime between October and May.  Recently most infections have occurred in January or February.  So a vaccine in December or later can still be beneficial.

5. Who should get vaccinated? The CDC recommends all people 6 months of age or older should get the flu vaccine.  Vaccinations are especially important for people at higher risk of severe influenza and their close contacts, including healthcare personnel and close contacts of children under the age of 6 months. Adults and older children need one dose per year but some children under 9 may need two doses to be protected.  The influenza vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, including pneumococcal vaccine.

6. Some people should not get inactivated influenza vaccine or should wait.  Tell your doctor if you have severe (life-threatening) allergies, including a severe allergy to eggs. A severe allergy to any vaccine component would be a reason not to get the vaccine.  Allergic reactions to influenza vaccine are rare.If you are not getting a flu shot at a doctor's office, check with a doctor that you are not one of the people at risk when getting a flu shot.

7. What are the risks from inactivated influenza vaccine? A vaccine like any medication can cause serious problems such as a severe allergic reaction.  The risk is extremely small. The viruses from inactivated vaccines have been killed, so you can't get the flu from it.  It does take 2 weeks for protection to develop.  You could contact the flu in between that time.

8. Mild, Moderate and Severe problems when getting a flu shot.

Mild: soreness, redness, or swelling at the sight of the shot, hoarseness; sore, red or itchy eyes;cough, fever aches,headache,itching, fatigue. If these problems occur they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days.

Moderate:Young children who get the inactivated flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine at the same time appear to be at risk for seizures caused by fever.  Ask your doctor about this and let them know if your child has ever had a seizure. 

Severe: Life Threatening allergic reactions are very rare.  If they do occur, it usually is within a few minutes or few hours after the shot.

9. What to do in the event of a severe reaction?  Any unusual condition such as a high fever or unusual behavior, call a doctor. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, hives, weakness a fast heart beat or dizziness.
Call a doctor or get the person to a doctor right away. Tel the doctor what happened and the date and tie it happened and when the vaccination is given.

10.  Who wants to be sick for the holidays and all the celebrations? Get your flu shot and you can go out and mingle without fear and spread only cheer. Maintain healthy habits and use preventative measures.

I present this as basic information and not as a health professional, always seek the advise of a physician for accurate information.

Most of this information was taken directly from a VIS (Vaccination Information Statement) given out at the time of a inactivated "flu shot" and every one who gets a flu shot should receive one.  Read it if you get one and those who have not received a sheet get a flu shot, you'll get one.  More in depth information can be found at the CDC website. Do what you can to stay healthy.  Also check the CDC website for recommended vaccines for all ages.  You are never too old for a good shot in the arm.

The flu is a virus and "should not" be treated with antibiotics.  Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and often used inappropriately.  Know the difference.  According to an article in Parade magazine in October and quoting Infectious Diseases Society of America, 70 percent is the proportion of sore   throat patients who receive antibiotics, though only 20 percent actually have bacteria-caused strep throat.  New guidelines advise that doctors test to confirm before they prescribe antibiotics.

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