Should I get a flu shot?

Should I get a flu shot?

This is the most common question I get this time of year.  With all medical decision you make, you should be weighing the benefits and risks.

BENEFITS:  Protection against the influenza viral illness and associated complications.  Pneumonia & death, although rare, are the most common complications of the influenza virus.

RISKS: Pain from injection, injection site reaction (small area of swelling & redness at injection site), adverse reaction to vaccine (Allergic Reaction, Guillain Barre), short-term flu-like illness (less then 3 days low grade fever).

WHAT IS THE FLU?  Flu is a severe infection causing symptoms of fever, body aches, cough, and sometimes vomiting & diarrhea.   For healthy individuals, it will run it’s course over 5-7 days without complications.  For individuals with a weak immune system, the risk of complications is significantly higher.

WHO SHOULD GET THE FLU SHOT?  There are 8 populations of individuals identified as having weak immune systems and therefore being at high risk for complications from influenza.  These are the people that I highly recommend get a flu shot every year.  1) Children under 2 years old, 2) Adults over 65 years old, 3) Pregnant women, 4) Individuals with chronic lung disease, 5) Individuals with chronic liver disease, 6) Individuals with chronic kidney disease, 7) Individuals with chronic heart disease, 8) Individuals with other immune system suppression (HIV, chronic steroid use, etc.).  In addition, some may choose to get the flu shot in order to protect someone they live with that suffers one of the above conditions.



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