Going in for your annual flu shot is an excellent way to protect your body against invasion by flu viruses. Coming down with the flu is costly for both your pocketbook and your health. The CDC reports that the 2017-2018 flu season affected 48.8 million people and resulted in 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths. Making sure you receive an annual flu vaccination can prevent pain and discomfort as well as lost time at work. Unfortunately, there are still those who fear that a flu shot will give them flu, rather than preventing an outbreak.
7. The Flu Shot Won’t Give You the Flu
Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, some individuals mistakenly believe that obtaining a flu shot will trigger an episode of the flu. The CDC reports that injectable flu vaccines are made from either killed viruses or inactivated flu virus components. These inactive viruses will not cause you to come down with the flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine is made from live flu viruses. However, these viruses are attenuated, or weakened, viruses. The live, attenuated flu viruses contained in the nasal spray cannot be activated in the warm temperatures of your lungs.
6. Protection Against Flu Viruses
Scientists create flu vaccines each year specifically to treat the strains of influenza viruses currently causing illness. According to Scientific American, teams of scientists in influenza centers around the globe study viral strains and trends to determine which viruses are currently active. For the 2019-2020 flu vaccination, the World Health Organization recommends a quadrivalent vaccine containing an A/Brisbane/02/2018(H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an A/Kansas/14/2017(H3N2)-like virus, a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus, and a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.
5. Injections vs. Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
Since both injectable flu vaccines and nasal spray flu vaccines are available, you may wonder which type of vaccine is best for you. The nasal spray flu vaccine may appeal to individuals who fear needles. However, the injectable flu vaccine is safe for a wider range of ages and health conditions. Currently, the nasal spray flu vaccine is only recommended for individuals between the ages of 2 and 49. It is not recommended for pregnant women or those with certain medical conditions, including weakened immune systems.
4. You May Experience Discomfort at the Injection Site
When you go for a flu shot, be prepared to experience temporary discomfort at the site of the injection. Some individuals notice the injection site is red, swollen, and hot to the touch following the injection. This side effect typically lasts less than one or two days. The discomfort of the injection site is generally much more tolerable than the agony of a lengthy bout of flu.
3. Other Side Effects of Flu Vaccination
Whether you receive the flu shot or nasal spray, you may experience some temporary side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms may include headache, nausea, and muscle soreness. Some individuals may experience a fever following flu vaccination. The nasal spray flu vaccine may cause additional side effects to the respiratory tract, including a runny or stuffy nose and a sore throat. Additional side effects of the nasal flu vaccine may include wheezing, vomiting, and decreased appetite. Notify your doctor if you experience distressing symptoms following a flu vaccine. If you suffer severe side effects, do not hesitate to dial 911.Related: Tips To Avoid Catching the Flu This Winter
2. Allergic Reactions
Some individuals experience an allergic reaction to the ingredients in flu vaccines. Notify your doctor before obtaining a flu vaccine if you are severely allergic to eggs or any of the other ingredients in a flu vaccine. While many individuals with an egg allergy are able to tolerate the flu vaccine, it should be administered in a doctor’s office with proper monitoring. Symptoms of a severe allergy include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or lips, a rash or hives, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and wheezing.
1. Guillain-Barre Syndrome
When considering a flu vaccine, notify your physician if you have ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). This rare condition sometimes affects individuals following a bacterial or viral infection. In this disorder, the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy nerve cells. This autoimmune attack may result in muscle weakness and paralysis. While there may be an increased risk of GBS following flu vaccination, studies suggest that the flu itself is more likely to trigger GBS.Related: Dog Flu Symptoms All Pet Owners Should Know