Holiday gatherings, roasting marshmallows by the fire and college football are reasons we all love the fall season. It’s also a chance for Tallahassee to escape the summer’s humidity and enjoy the crisp fall air. However, with the welcome change in weather comes the dreaded flu.
The flu virus is most prominent in the fall and winter months and is caused by the family of influenza viruses that lead to a respiratory illness. This means it causes many of the same symptoms as a cold, but is often more severe.
Common flu symptoms include:
- High fever
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Muscle pain
- Fatigue (feeling very tired)
Additional complications from the flu include pneumonia and bacterial infections, which can lead to hospitalization. A typical duration of the illness is about one week.
The severity of this disease and its complications have led to great efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible in the United States. This helps reduce the passage of the virus from one person to another, the severity of illness, complications and the duration of illness. However, each year there are always common vaccine questions:
Can I get the flu from the vaccine?
No. The injectable flu vaccine consists of inactivated virus, or parts of the virus, so it isn’t possible to contract the flu from the flu shot.
However, it is common to experience minor side effects from the flu shot such as muscle aches and soreness at the injection site. It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, but this is very rare. If you experience more serious side effects – other than aches or soreness – seek medical attention immediately.
Is it OK to receive the nasal spray vaccine instead of the injection?
No. At this time, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend the nasal spray vaccine for the 2017-2018 season.
Do I have to get the vaccine each year?
Yes. The strain of viruses causing the flu changes year to year and your immunity from the vaccine wears off. Therefore, the CDC recommends getting a vaccine every year starting at age six months old.
If the CDC guesses the wrong strain for the flu vaccination, is the flu vaccine useless?
No. The CDC uses projections based on viral strains and outbreaks across the world to determine what to include in the flu vaccine each year. Even if the strains are not completely accurate, the vaccine provides some immunity and reduces the severity of the flu illness if contracted.
The vaccine protects me from getting the flu, right?
Not exactly. The flu shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu, however it does reduce the severity of illness (if you do catch it) and how long the illness will last. It’s also proven to reduce chances of any complications like pneumonia.
Getting your flu vaccination every year is an easy way to minimize your chances of getting this unwanted illness. While it may not guarantee immunity, the flu vaccine is worth the soreness you may feel after getting it.
Make the decision to protect you and your family this flu season and get your flu vaccination. If you’re looking for a primary care physician be sure to check TMH.ORG/PhysicianPartners.
More information regarding flu vaccination can be found on the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm