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The flu is a very dangerous virus that can cause serious illness and even death.
During flu season, there are many myths that spread about the flu shot. Understanding the facts about the flu vaccine may help to protect yourself, friends, and family from the flu this year.
Fact: The flu shot cannot give you the flu because the virus strain is not active. Some people may experience side effects, such as mild soreness or swelling, muscle ache, and low-grade fever, which can be confused with symptoms of the flu.
Fact: Flu experts review which strains of the flu are in the other areas of the world to predict which will hit the United States. Even if the vaccine is not a perfect match, it can help to prevent severe complications and decrease the time and severity of the illness.
Fact: Although flu season typically peaks in December through February, you can be exposed as early as October. Flu vaccines become available by the end of August. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting your flu shot by the end of October, if possible. The flu shot takes 14 days to protect you. On the flip side, even if you don’t get your vaccine early, it’s never too late for your flu shot. Flu season lingers into May!
Fact: Avoiding the flu in the past does not mean you will have a flu-free future. Every year a new flu season puts you at risk. You can also be a carrier of the flu and give it to others by not getting the vaccine. Between 20 and 30 percent of people carry the flu with no symptoms!
Fact: Although this is the first step, there are other ways to decrease your risk including:
• avoiding contact with people infected with the flu or showing symptoms
• washing your hands frequently with soap and water
• not touching your nose, mouth or eyes to reduce risk of spreading
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: every person six months and older should get the flu shot, especially the following groups:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that those with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine should not be vaccinated. In addition, if you have an allergy to eggs or other ingredients, or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you should discuss with your doctor whether the vaccine is right for you.
Most people will receive the inactivated flu vaccine as an injection. The flu vaccine is also available as a live attenuated nasal spray. This spray is an option for some non-pregnant people between the ages of two and 49. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about the right vaccine for you and let them know if you have any of the following:
For those 65 years and older, the high-dose flu shot is the best option.
Flu vaccines are available at:
The flu vaccine is FREE for all Rhode Island residents, with or without insurance. For non-RI residents the flu shot is covered by most insurances at either a pharmacy or doctor’s office.
For further questions or concerns, your local pharmacists are a great resource to turn to and they can vaccinate at any time. It’s important to start protecting yourself today against the flu with a free flu shot! For more information, visit this website.
Contributing to this post is Kayla Pelletier, Pharmacy Student