Why It Is Important to Get Your Yearly Flu Vaccine

As flu season approaches, it’s important to receive your yearly shot. Doctors recommend getting one before Halloween to prevent contracting and spreading the flu.

Types of flu vaccines

Any flu shot will offer you protection, but the CDC recommends trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines for the 2018-2019 flu season.

“Both will offer you adequate protection from the flu, so get whichever option is available,” says Dr. Aishah Ali, an allergist and immunologist at UCF Health.

Who should get a flu shot?

According to the CDC, people with medical conditions such as asthma, lung disease or diabetes, as well as those who are pregnant or 65+ years old have the highest risk of complications from the virus, and should make getting vaccinated a priority. Pregnant women can and should get the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their baby.

Children younger than 6 months and those with life-threatening allergies to ingredients in the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

Having an egg allergy does not mean you cannot get the flu vaccine. “Your doctor should be able to administer the flu vaccine to you even if you have a history of egg allergy,” says Dr. Ali.

Contrary to rumors, the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. You may experience mild side effects after receiving the vaccine, such as soreness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches. These side effects should pass in a day or two. It takes about two weeks for your body to build up the antibodies from the flu vaccine, so it is still possible to contract the flu during this window of time. To reduce the likeliness of this occurring, get your shot early in the flu season, ideally in October, or earlier if it’s available.

Benefits of flu vaccine

1.    It can decrease your risk for getting the flu.

2.    If you do get the flu, it can reduce the risk of severe flu symptoms, flu-related medical
complications, hospitalizations and deaths.

3.    It protects others around you who are at greatest risk for complications as a result of getting the
flu: the elderly, children and pregnant women.

4.    Getting a flu vaccination also reduces the risk of the virus spreading among people around you.

If you come into contact with someone who has the flu, you may fit the criteria to receive an antiviral drug (brand name Tamiflu) to decrease your chances of becoming ill. Contact your healthbcare provider for details.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice that is open to the community. We offer primary and specialty care under one roof from two convenient offices in Orlando. Learn more at ucfhealth.com.

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