When Should You Get A Flu Shot
Exactly when the flu season starts and ends is unpredictable, so health officials recommend that people get their flu shot in early fall, preferably by the end of October, the CDC says. The same recommendation applies this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Flu activity typically peaks in January or February.
“We’d like to get as many people protected against influenza before influenza becomes active in communities across the country,” Schaffner said.
Most flu vaccines are given before Thanksgiving, Schaffner said, but people can still get their shot throughout the winter months. Each season’s flu shot expires in June of that year, but Schaffner said that he would consider it “too late” to get a flu vaccine after March, unless a person is traveling to the Southern Hemisphere .
After vaccination, it takes a person about two weeks to build up immunity against the flu.
People can visit the CDC’s VaccineFinder.org to find flu shot locations.
Myth: The Local Pharmacy Is As Good As My Gp For Flu Shots
Pharmacists are now permitted to administer the flu shot. However, youre much better off visiting a GP clinic.
Its more likely your GP or practice nurse will insist you hang around for 15 minutes after your immunisation. This is to ensure youre not one of the unlucky few who experience anaphylactic reactions to vaccines and to help if youre in need.
Pharmacy chains often get their stock and start administering the flu shot as early as March each year. The problem with this is that a March flu shot will only protect you for the four months until the end of June. The peak flu season is in full effect until the end of August, so your GP will often say late April is best.
As part of your complete healthcare, a visit to your GP also provides an opportunity to have you and your familys immunisation histories reviewed to get all vaccines up to date.
What Side Effects Can Occur After Getting A Flu Vaccine
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of a bad case of flu.
A flu shot: The viruses in a flu shot are killed , so you cannot get flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may occur are:
Soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given
The nasal spray: The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include:
In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include:
If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually are mild and short-lived. A flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injuries, or death.
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Myth #: You Dont Need To Get A Flu Shot Every Year
Fact: There are a lot of influenza viruses out there. And every year, the CDC and the World Health Organization perform rigorous testing to determine which strains of influenza pose the highest threats globally.
So, one of the most important things you should know about the flu vaccine is that it too changes every year, based on this research. Plus, the flu shot is effective for about six months, which is the length of flu season. This means that even if you had your shot last year, youll need on this year as well.
What About People Who Get A Seasonal Flu Vaccine And Still Get Sick With Flu Symptoms
There are several reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against flu.
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Allergic Reactions To The Flu Vaccine
It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Anyone can report a suspected side effect of a vaccine through the Yellow Card Scheme.
How To Treat Flu Vaccine Side Effects If Youre Really Struggling
Although side effects shouldnt last long, theres no shame in wanting to minimize your pain. To deal with any aches or a fever, you can try an OTC pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your arm is really sore, consider icing it to help with inflammation. Getting plenty of sleep, loading up on water, and generally trying to take it easy until you feel a bit better is always a good idea, too.
And if you have any questions about the flu vaccineif and when you should get your flu shot or nasal spray vaccine, if you should be worried about side effects, concerns about allergies, or anything elsedont hesitate to talk it over with a health care professional. Theyre there to help you make the process as seamless as possible.
Additional reporting by Korin Miller
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Can The Flu Shot Give Me The Flu
No. All flu vaccines used in Australia are inactivated, which means they do not contain the live flu virus so you can’t catch the flu from the vaccine.
Less than 1 in 6 people experience side effects from the flu shot that are similar to the early signs of the flu. These may include fever, tiredness and muscle aches. These side effects can start within a few hours of vaccination and sometimes last for 1 to 2 days. They usually go away on their own, once your body has developed an immune response to the vaccine, which will protect you from the flu virus.
Its important to remember that the side effects show the vaccine is triggering an immune response, which is what its designed to do.
How The Influenza Vaccine Works
The influenza viruses change every year because the influenza virus has a unique ability to change its surface structure. This means that even if you had the flu or an immunisation one year, your bodys immune system might be unable to fight the changed version of the virus that will be circulating the following year.
Each year, a new vaccine is developed and is available for those who wish to be immunised. The seasonal flu vaccine includes protection against four strains of influenza viruses.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu because it does not contain live virus. Some people may still contract the flu because the vaccine may not always protect against all strains of the influenza virus circulating in the community.
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When Should You Cancel A Flu Shot If Youre Sick
The key is paying close attention to your symptoms and determining whether youre on the upswing or downswing of that arc. If youre getting better and your flu shot is scheduled for the next day, youre probably fine, Dr. Ford says. If youre still feeling bad or getting worse, then that might be the time to at least check with your doctor about whether you should proceed.
Erring on the side of caution and postponing your appointment until you feel better is never a bad idea, however. Flu shots are widely available in doctors offices, Dr. Ford says. Theyre in all the pharmacies. If youre not sure if you should go ahead and get it, it really isnt a big deal if you delay it by a day or two.
Myth #: You Can Get The Flu From The Flu Shot
Fact: The flu shot does not contain an active virus. So, the answer to questions like Can you get the flu from the flu shot? Can the flu shot make you sick? or Is the flu vaccine a live virus? is a definite no.
But for some, the flu shot does come with mild side effects that can easily be mistaken for early flu-like symptoms. The most common flu shot side effects include mild soreness, tenderness or a bit of swelling at the injection site. You may also run a small fever, or experience slight headaches or muscle aches.
On the other hand, many experience no flu shot reactions at all! Plus, a day or two of mild discomfort simply doesnt compare to what you can experience with a full bout of the flu. Flu symptom onset is fast and often involves fever, chills, extreme fatigue, muscle aches and more for several days.
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Can You Still Get Sick Even If You Have The Shot
“The flu vaccine protects against influenza virus, but there are a number of other viruses that can cause a flu-like disease, Pekosz said. “Viruses like human parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus and coronaviruses all circulate in fall and early winter, the time that flu vaccination programs are in full-swing.” These viruses and their symptoms usually last two to eight days.
Common Side Effects Of The Flu Vaccine
Some people don’t experience any side effects after a flu jab. But the most common reactions are:
- a sore arm, or pain, itching, or redness at the injection site
- aches and pains
- feeling feverish, tired, or unwell
These are normal responses to the vaccine.
You may be asked to wait 15 to 20 minutes after your vaccination so that treatment can be given quickly if a very rare, severe allergic reaction occurs. Many people aged 13 years and older will only need to wait 5minutes. Children under 13 years will need to wait 20 minutes.
Allergic responses are extremely rare.
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What Should I Know About The 2021
For starters, its important to know that its highly recommended that you get vaccinated against the flu even though last years flu season was mild, thanks, in large part, to many people masking, staying indoors, and taking other preventive measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
A minimal flu season last year doesnt mean were in the clear this year. In fact, weve already seen flu outbreaks this flu season, such as the massive outbreak at the University of Michigan campus. Dr. Agarwal says theres a possibility that outbreaks will continue throughout the flu season as people loosen up on illness-reducing behaviors like wearing face masks. And its important to remember that some people do end up with complications from the flu.
Flu viruses are always changing, so flu vaccine formulas are reviewed every year to best protect people against the viruses that are predicted to cause the most illness, according to the CDC. All of the vaccines available for the 2021-2022 flu season, whether theyre via nasal or needle administration, protect against the same four flu viruses circulating heavily right now.
According to the CDC, one vaccine isnt any better than the other, but if you have any questions about whether one might be best for you, then its always safest to talk to your doctor.
Myth #: The Flu Isn’t Serious
“The flu is certainly a very serious disease,” Cunningham said.
Every year, between 15 million and 60 million cases of the flu are reported in the U.S., Cunningham said. More than 200,000 people with the flu are admitted to hospitals yearly. And between 3,000 and 50,000 people in the U.S. die of the flu yearly. During the 2019-2020 flu season, early estimates by the CDC suggested that 38 million Americans were infected with the flu and 22,000 people died from it.
One reason people may not perceive the flu as being serious is that cases of the “stomach flu” are mistaken for influenza virus infections. “True influenza is an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract,” Cunningham said. Infected people may develop a high fever, body aches and nasal congestion, he said.
People with the stomach flu which is commonly caused by a type of virus called a norovirus have diarrhea, cramping and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Influenza does not cause such symptoms.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.
Originally published on Live Science.
Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.
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How Effective Is The Seasonal Flu Shot
Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary. The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or match between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation. During years when the flu vaccine match is good, it is possible to measure substantial benefits from flu vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness and complications. However, the benefits of flu vaccination will still vary, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated , what influenza viruses are circulating that season and, potentially, which type of flu vaccine was used. For more information, see Vaccine Effectiveness How well does the Flu Vaccine Work. For information specific to this season, visit About the Current Flu Season.
*References for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits. Also, see the A Strong Defense Against Flu: Get Vaccinated! fact sheet.
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Lauren Mazzo has been working as a health and fitness writer and editor since 2015 including six years at Shape, where she was formerly the senior editor. She’s certified as a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist through the American Council on Exercise, and is currently working on her health coach certification. In 2015, she graduated from Ithaca College with a B.A. in Journalism and minors in Writing and Honors, and while there, she also studied Sex, Gender, and Desire and The Science and Philosophy of Sex and Love. Prior to Shape, she worked for the digital team at Self Magazine and interned at Marie Claire. Her passion for all things health and fitness began as a teenager, when she first started learning about nutrition and training as a competitive cheerleader. Since then, she’s explored a variety of workouts, from weightlifting, running, and cycling to yoga, and continued cheering on the nonprofit team Cheer New York in New York City. While she’s currently traveling the world as a nomad, you can catch her learning about the psychology of dating, attempting new adventure sports, and embracing the Blue Zone way of life.
Another COVID winter is creeping closer, and with it, so does cold and flu season. But unlike last year when a majority of social-distancing protocols and closures were still in place people are vaxxed, socializing, and gathering indoors.
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Who Should Be Vaccinated
Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, with rare exceptions detailed later in this article. Some people need it more than others. People who work with or around children or sick people should strongly consider getting annual flu vaccinations to help protect themselves and the vulnerable populations they work with.
Different types of flu vaccines are appropriate for different groups of people. A patient’s age, health status, and allergies should all be taken into account when deciding what type of flu vaccine is appropriate.
People ages 2 to 49 who do not want the standard, injectable flu vaccine may opt for the nasal spray vaccine as long as they meet certain requirements.
How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine
The effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine depends upon several factors, including how well the flu strains in the vaccine match the strains in circulation. Some studies show that when strains in the vaccine are a good match with the ones that are circulating, vaccinated individuals are 60% less likely to catch the flu than people who aren’t vaccinated, according to the CDC .
Flu vaccine effectiveness can also vary depending on the person being vaccinated the vaccine tends to work best in healthy adults and older children, and less well in older adults.
For instance, a 2013 study from the CDC found that the year’s flu vaccine was not very effective in adults ages 65 and over, Live Science previously reported. Older people who got the vaccine were just as likely to visit the doctor for flu symptoms as those who did not get the vaccine.
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There are some studies that suggest the high-dose flu vaccine which contains four times the amount of inactivated virus as the regular shot and is given to individuals 65 and older may provide better protection for older adults. A 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the high-dose vaccine provides 24% more protection against the flu than the standard dose, Schaffner said.
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