Health Maintenance > Flu vaccine: read all about it!

FLu vaccine: read all about it!

Are you fearful of flu vaccines?  Don’t be!

Here are the rules:

  • Kids are eligible for protection against flu once they are 6 months old.
  • Kids 8 and under need two vaccinations (a month apart) if they've never had a flu vaccine; otherwise, they need just one dose. 
  • Kids over 9 need only a single vaccination for the season, even if it's their first flu vaccine.
  • I do not recommend the "mist" nasal flu vaccine.

(Confused?  We'll help you, of course!)

Get your flu shot as soon as it's available.  There's no value to waiting later in the season.  It takes 6-8 weeks for the immunity from a flu vaccine to develop; and we can't predict when the first wave of influenza will arrive - sometimes it's as early as October.

You might have heard cautionary stories:  “I got a flu shot once and I was never ever so sick!”  This is absolutely an "old wives tale."  You cannot contract the flu from a flu shot, because it's a killed vaccine;  and getting a flu shot certainly protects you from getting influenza.

Unfortunately some people get confused by terminology.  People sometimes call any illness “the flu.”  A stomache bug, allergies, a head cold, any fever … any of these might be called “the flu” or “flu-like symptoms” by a non-medical person.  Obviously flu shots won’t help protect against these illnesses.

But true influenza, which sweeps around the world every year, is different.  The flu vaccines certainly help protect you (and your child) from getting Influenza.  They have very few side effects, other than some low grade fever or muscle aches for a day or so.  So there’s no reason to stay away from them.

Thousands of people die each year from influenza.  Thousands more will be hospitalized.  But I’m not aware that anyone ever died from a flu shot.  The balance of safety is certainly convincing: we’re all better off getting vaccinated.

So, get flu vaccines, for your kids and for yourselves!

Click here to read about the different types of flu vaccine we have available.

     --  Dr. Epstein