The flu can bring a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and fatigue. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. The flu also can be deadly.
Who Should Get a Flu Vaccine?
Even if you believe you’ve already had the flu this season, it is still recommended that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. People in high-risk groups and those who live with or care for high risk individuals are especially encouraged to get vaccinated against the flu. People in high-risk groups are at an increased risk for having serious flu‐related complications, such as hospitalization and death. People in these groups should also consider seeing their healthcare provider to be evaluated for antiviral medications if they develop flu symptoms. Influenza vaccination is highly recommended for the following groups:
- Pregnant women (any trimester) and up to two weeks post-partum
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People age 65 and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and lung or heart disease and those with immunosuppression from medication or disease
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including healthcare personnel and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who are morbidly obese
There are other people for whom vaccination is especially important. This includes people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu. Health care workers are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine to reduce the transmission of influenza-related illness and death, especially to patients at increased risk for severe flu complications.
Some People Should Not Get a Flu Shot
Children younger than six months of age are too young to get vaccinated. Anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine also should not get a flu shot. People with known severe allergic reactions to eggs should consult with a doctor with expertise in the management of allergic conditions before receiving a flu vaccine.
Side Effects of the Flu Vaccine
Much has been written about the potential side effects of the flu vaccine. According to Dr. Anna Pudinak, MD with AP Health Family Practice in Clifton, New Jersey, “Inactivated influenza vaccines are generally well-tolerated, with the most common side effect being arm soreness at the injection site. A slightly increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome has been associated with the inactivated influenza vaccine during certain influenza seasons, but this added risk appears to be substantially less than the overall health risk posed by naturally occurring influenza.”
How Long Does Flu Season Last?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.
Flu Vaccinations at AP Health Family Practice in Clifton, NJ
To make an appointment for a flu shot, or for more information about flu symptoms, types of vaccines available and potential side effects, contact Dr. Pudinak at 862-414-3335 or visit the AP Health Family Practice website