It’s that time of year when many of you are trying to decide whether or not to get a flu shot. The decision is made easy for certain groups of people who should not get a flu shot unless a physician recommends it. The rest of us need to weigh the good, the bad and the ugly of inoculation, whether it is the traditional shot in the arm or nasal-spray vaccine.
Who should not get a flu shot?
•People with severe allergy to chicken eggs.
•People who have experienced a severe reaction to a previous flu shot.
•People who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu shot.
•Children less than six months of age.
•People with moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they need to wait until they recover).
Who may get vaccinated?
•Children, six months to 19 years of age.
•People 50 years of age and older.
•People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or cardiovascular disease.
•People living in nursing homes or other long-term health care facilities.
•People who live with or care for high-risk individuals.
•Flu shots can reduce the risk of upper respiratory illness and doctor visits as well as worker absenteeism.
•Vaccination may protect many high-risk groups and elderly individuals from serious illness or possibly death from influenza.
•Testing indicates flu shots work, provided the strain of virus in the vaccine and the one circulating in your area match.
•You may still get the flu even if you get a shot because you may contract a different flu virus. Studies indicate that vaccines are 70-90 percent effective in “healthy” adults but less effective with the elderly and other individuals with chronic illnesses.
•The vaccine may cause serious allergic reactions, although usually side effects are mild and include body aches, low-grade fever and soreness, redness or swelling at the point of injection.
•Preservatives, added to flu shots, may cause side effects of varying degrees of severity in some people.
•Some research has suggested that certain flu shot ingredients, including thimerosal (mercury based) and aluminum, increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
If you’d rather not get a flu shot, work on strengthening your immune system by practicing a healthy lifestyle which includes:
•Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables.
•Washing your hands frequently.
•Getting adequate rest and managing stress.