Fending Off the Flu Bug

Fending Off the Flu Bug

Fending Off the Flu Bug

senior flu shotBefore talking about why you should get a flu shot, let’s talk about three “myths” surrounding the flu shot:

Myth #1: Getting a flu shot will give you the flu.

This is not true. The flu shot is made in two ways:

  • With flu viruses that have been 'inactivated' (aka not the kind that causes sickness)
  • Without flu viruses

Myth #2: The flu shot will make me sick.

While we’re all different, major reactions to a flu shot seem rare. Occasional reactions are:

  • Redness
  • Pain or swelling where the shot was given
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches

Myth #3: I missed this year’s dose.

While it’s best to get the shot by October, you can still do it as long as the flu is circulating, into January or even later.

It’s important to get a flu shot every year because there are new strains of flu virus yearly. In fact, here are three good reasons to get the shot:

  1. If you are 65 years of age or older, or have a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease, you need a flu shot every year because there are new strains of flu virus.
  2. The flu can spread even before symptoms appear. Others may give you the flu before they know they have it.
  3. A flu shot also helps protect against complications that can result from the flu, such as pneumonia. (And speaking of, have you talked with your doctor about the pneumonia shot?  Pneumonia can cause infections to your lungs, bloodstream, and brain.)

Who should NOT get a flu shot?

While the list of reasons for not getting a flu shot is short, it is well worth considering. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), points out issues you should talk with your doctor about before getting a flu shot:

  • If you have an allergy to eggs
  • If you have an allergy to any of the ingredients in the flu vaccine.
  • If you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

Lastly, people who are 65 or older should not get the intradermal flu shot or the jet injector flu vaccine.


Originally published 10/25/2016: Revised 2019