Health Maintenance > Flu vaccine: read all about it!

FLu vaccine: read all about it!

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

Flu vaccine now contains combined protection against "seasonal" Influenza B and two types of Influenza A: "Swine Flu" (H1N1), and a third flu called H3N2.

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 didn't get two flu vaccines last year, or if they've never had a flu vaccine; otherwise, they can be vaccinated with just one dose.  Most kids who got flu vaccines last year will need only 1 dose this year.
  • Kids over 9 need only a single vaccination for the season.
  • Kids over two years old can get the nasal flu vaccine instead of a shot, if they haven't had an asthma attack, or other respiratory or cardiac problem, in the past 12 months.

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

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.  (Nasal flu vaccine is a live virus vaccine, but the risk of side effects is no greater than with the killed-virus shot.)

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 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