Can You Skip Your Flu Shot

October 24, 2013 DelRene Davis

Flu season is right around the corner. Although we usually expect peaks in January and February, infections can start occurring as early as October.

It takes two weeks for your flu shot to start providing full protection so we recommend you get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available, even if you received a flu shot last year.

The flu virus is constantly changing, which means the vaccine is also changing. Public health experts develop a new vaccine every year to treat the three most widespread flu strains for the current year.

And, despite what you may have heard, getting your flu shot does not give you the flu. “If you feel achy and feverish after the shot, it’s your own immune system working to protect you, it’s not the flu! The flu shot is made from dead flu viruses (germs),” says DelRene Davis, ARNP at West Olympia Family Medicine. “When you get the shot, these dead germs ‘trick’ your body into making antibodies ahead of time. Now you’re ready to defend yourself in case the real flu catches up with you.”

Immunization is crucial for our most vulnerable populations:

  • those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease
  • pregnant women
  • seniors age 65 and over
  • young children
  • anyone who lives with or cares for those at higher risk should also get a flu shot

You can receive your flu vaccine two different ways:

The “flu shot,” made from a killed virus that has been tested and approved for use. The flu shot comes in three different varieties.

  • A regular dose for those six months and older
  • A high-dose shot for those 65 or older
  • An intradermal shot (injected into the skin instead of a muscle) for persons age 18 to 64.

The “flu mist,” made from a weakened vaccine, given as a nasal spray. The spray is approved for those 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

You should not get a shot if you have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, have had a severe reaction to a previous shot, have a fever at the time, or have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

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