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Fact or Fiction : The Flu

“Why do I need a flu shot?  I never get the flu.”

Influenza is a viral illness that circulates from October to May and causes symptoms that include fever, body aches, sneezing, cough, profusely runny nose, sore throat and red eyes.  Symptoms last for 5-10 days and most patients are unable to work or be at school while they are sick.  It is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS (refer back to the symptoms of runny nose, sneezing and cough).

The influenza vaccine contains 3 or 4 inactivated influenza viruses depending on whether you receive the tetravalent or quadrivalent vaccine.  Avance Care offers the quadrivalent vaccine.  The vaccines contain chopped up pieces of dead virus.  I know that Walking Dead is popular right now but dead pieces of virus cannot come back together can make a live virus.  Translation: you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.  Minor side effects of getting the flu vaccine can include soreness at the injection site and mild body aches as your body creates an immune response to the vaccine.

It takes 2 weeks for your body to create sufficient immunity to fight off influenza so the best time to get a vaccine is early in the season, September or October.  It is not too late to get one now!

The flu vaccine is considered seasonal which means that your immunity to it will wane for the next flu season.  Also, the vaccine is different each year based on predictions from the Center for Disease Control.

You can start vaccinating your children against influenza once they are 6 months old.  Between 6 months and 8 years of age should receive 2 smaller doses of flu vaccine the first time they are vaccinated.  In subsequent years they will only need one.

High risk populations that should be vaccinated against flu include pregnant women, children under the age of 2, adults older than the age of 65, patients with chronic lung diseases (COPD, asthma) and patients with diabetes.

Please take the time to get your flu shot.  If you have insurance it is a free service to you.  If you do not have insurance they are $25 at Avance Care. You can stop by or make an appointment at our Raleigh location (919-865-8000) or Morrisville location (919-655-1000).

Investing in your health is a gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Holidays,

Dr. Thompson

Categories: Medicine
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