Should I get a flu shot?
Oct 16, 2012 1:00 am| Permalink
For nearly everyone, the answer is yes! For most people, a flu shot is an important step in protecting yourself from the flu and preventing you from spreading illness to others. The CDC (Centers For Disease Control) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months who does not have certain conditions get a flu shot this season. There are some exceptions. CDC cautions that you to talk your primary care provider before receiving a flu shot if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or a severe reaction to a previous flu shot. Still, that leaves the majority of people eligible for a flu vaccination. It is particularly important to get vaccinated if you are among those at high risk of serious complications (like pneumonia) from the flu, such as people over age 65, pregnant women, and those with asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. Similarly, vaccination is also strongly recommended for those who live with, or care for, others who are at high risk for serious complications, such as those with the chronic conditions I mentioned.
The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) recently released an advisory encouraging people to get flu shots the follows the CDC’s recommendations. VDH point out that 42% of adult Vermonters had a chronic condition in 2010, and only half of them received an annual flu vaccine. Particularly concerning in VDH’s number is that in 2010, 46% adults with asthma and 27% of children with asthma did not get their annual flu shot, according to survey data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This means many people in our community went without this important protection. Chris Finley, the VDH Immunization Program Chief makes an important point that it is not just you who you protect when you get a flu shot. He says, “Immunization helps protect everyone who is close to you and prevents exposure to the virus, for example grandparents who are immunized help protect newborns in their family.”
Some people worry that they will get sick after getting a flu shot. That is not the case and has been proven by medical studies. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactive (killed), so they cannot cause infection. According to the CDC, the most common side effect in adults is soreness where the shot was given which typically lasts less than two days. Rarely, there may be fever, muscle pain, or feeling of weakness, but these uncommon. Like any medicine, reactions can occur but it is important to remember that almost all people who get the flu vaccine have no serious problems from it.
We are fortunate to have many options for getting flu shots. You can get your flu shot from your primary care provider. Simply call the office and let them know you would like to be vaccinated and they can help you. For those of you in need of walk-in convenience, flu shots are available at the Northwestern Walk-In Clinic on Route 7 in Georgia. They are open between the hours of 8am to 7pm Monday through Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturday. Franklin County Home Health Agency provides many community flu shot clinics throughout Franklin County. The dates, times, and locations are available on their website at wwwfchha.org or you can call their office at 527-7531 for more information. There is typically a fee for the flu vaccine and this may be covered by your insurance. Many of the providers and clinics will bill Medicaid, Medicare Part B, and some private insurance. Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Vermont has donated funds for the public clinics run by Franklin County Home Health for the purchase of flu vaccine for recipients without coverage and who meet high-risk criteria. For more information on that, please call Home Health at 527-7531.
Think of getting a flu shot as a piece of healthcare reform you can take action on. Don’t just stand by and hope you don’t get sick. Don’t just suffer through being sick. Get your flu shot and do your part to prevent the spread of illness in our community. If you have any questions, please speak to your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call Janet Havrilko in NMC’s Community Relations Office at 524-1280 and she will help you find a provider. I’ve gotten my flu shot – now it’s your turn!
- Jill Berry Bowen, NMC CEO