Flu Shots: Why It’s Important to Get Your Flu Shot

Flu Shots: Why It’s Important to Get Your Flu Shot

A yearly vaccination is important and can protect you from the flu.

Get your flu shot vaccine sign badge with blue syringe stamp icon. Vector illustration.

Why should I get a flu shot?

A flu shot protects you and those around you from the flu, which is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

When should I get a flu shot?

It’s best to get a flu shot before there is significant flu activity in the area. This will protect you from the flu. We recommend that you get your flu shot before the end of October or as soon after that as possible. Protection from the flu shot lasts for six to eight months.

 What causes the flu?

The influenza virus usually enters the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus becomes airborne when a person with the flu coughs or sneezes. You can also catch the flu if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your mouth or nose.

What is the difference between the flu and a cold?

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different types of viruses with different symptoms. Flu symptoms tend to come on immediately and are typically more severe than a cold. Flu symptoms can include a fever, headaches, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and cough, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between the flu and a cold, but your health care provider can give you a test to determine if you have the flu.

Who is at higher risk from the flu?

Older adults, young children under age 2, and people with specific health issues, such as heart conditions, asthma, or diabetes, are at higher risk for serious flu complications. Most people who get the flu will recover within a few days to less than two weeks. Some people may develop complications, such as pneumonia, as a result of the flu.

Should I seek medical care for the flu?

Seek medical care immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, seizures, or flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and worse cough.

What is the best prevention from the flu?

A flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older. The vaccine works by causing antibodies to develop in your body. These antibodies provide protection against infection from the flu virus. Also keep your hands germ-free with frequent and thorough hand washing.

Are there any risks in getting the flu vaccine?

There are very few risks. The antibody reaction may cause fatigue, muscle aches, or a low-grade fever in some people. The vaccine cannot cause the flu. Occasionally people who get vaccinated during flu season catch the flu in the two weeks before the vaccine has a chance to fully work.

To schedule your flu shot appointment, please call 603-788-5095.

by Charles Brown, MD, pathologist