Be smart and get a flu shot

It’s that season again. Remember last year when you were afraid to touch the grocery store countertop because the person in front of you placed their slime all over it? Or that time you had to walk behind someone after they were coughing and sneezing all over the place? Studies have shown that the flu virus can survive on surfaces for up to eight hours. That’s right, up to eight hours!

So, if you haven’t already, get that flu shot. It’s the best way to protect yourself against the flu.

Flu season generally runs between October and May and usually peaks between December and February. The CDC recommends that EVERYONE 6 months and older, especially those at high risk, get vaccinated each and every season. This is not only to protect yourself, but those surrounding you. Think about those at high risk—like children and your grandparents. By getting vaccinated, you are helping protect those individuals.

Each year in the U.S., the flu causes more than 226,000 hospitalizations and about 36,000 deaths. Children, elderly patients and those with a weakened immune system are particularly at risk.

Alright, have I convinced you to get your flu shot yet? If not, keep reading—I’m about to debunk a common misconception

You cannot get the flu from the flu shot! Yep, say what you want, but those that think you get the flu from the shot are telling you a MYTH. The flu shot is NOT a live virus. Now, after getting the flu shot you may have some arm tenderness or have symptoms of a cold such as a mild fever or runny nose. This is a GOOD thing! This means that your immune system is working in overdrive to make antibodies towards the flu virus.

Teach your body what to do—vaccinate against the flu! It takes about two weeks for your body to fully develop immunity to those strains covered in the shot.

As we age our immune system weakens, which causes those 65 years and older to have a lessened response to the regular flu shot. Data from last season shows that between 70 and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the U.S. occurred among adults 65 years and older. Around 50 to 70 percent of all flu-related hospitalizations were adults 65 years and older. Those 65 years and older should get the high-dose flu shot because it provides better immune response and protection. The high-dose vaccine protected 24.2% more adults over the age 65 compared to the standard-dose vaccine.

If you’ve avoided shots in the past because of an egg allergy, talk with your doctor. A new formulation has been made for those with an egg allergy.

There are currently no shortages of the vaccine, so ask your doctor or local pharmacist about getting your flu shot today. No prescription is necessary. The sooner you get it, the sooner you can protect yourself and the ones around you. Don’t get caught, get the shot!

Brooke Barnes is a student intern with Upstate Pharmacy.

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