Flu season: it’s not too late to get the shot

Close-up, hand holding flu vaccine applicator, 2017.

CULLMAN, Ala. – The CDC states the best time to get a flu shot is from October-September, but the virus usually peaks around February, so it is still beneficial to get a flu shot in December or later. While many people are wary of the flu shot because they find they get sick after taking it, the flu shot cannot give anyone the flu. Kiah Brown of Specialty Pharmacy explains that the flu vaccine contains a dead virus. He says, “When people get sick, it is their bodies immune response to this dead virus.” The vaccine helps to build the immune system so that people will not get as sick as they normally would if they catch the flu.

Some report symptoms of low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches after receiving the vaccine. These reactions usually occur 1-2 days after receiving the shot. The CDC reports, “In randomized, blinded studies, where some people got inactivated flu shots and others got salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got a flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.”

The most common reactions people have are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by the real virus.

Pharmacist Kiah Brown and the CDC recommend that people of all ages above 6 months get the flu vaccine, especially children and seniors. Brown says there is a specialized vaccine for elderly patients with a higher does of antigen to create a stronger immune response. Brown also notes that unvaccinated children are more likely to die from the flu virus than from COVID-19.

The CDC lists several different vaccine options to choose from and does not recommend any over the others. They do recommend that everyone be vaccinated once a year.

To learn more about the vaccine and options available, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm?web=1&wdLOR=cA62A1F1C-C8E5-4654-A89E-E2A5F66DDB9.

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