Who doesn’t get the flu? Most people tend to ignore the flu and do not get treated at all. However, what they don’t know is that the flu can also lead to hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths are flu-related. According to the CDC, about 20% of Americans get the flu each year and I’m betting you wouldn’t want to be one of them. Fever, cough, headache, fatigue, runny nose. We’re all quite familiar with flu symptoms, and let’s face it, no one likes getting the flu. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. It’s inexpensive, and more importantly very effective. Read on to find out more about it.

There are two kinds of flu vaccines that are available for both kids and adults. The traditional flu shot is an inactivated virus. It doesn’t cause the flu, so don’t worry; but it does have to be given intramuscularly. The other kind is a nasal flu vaccine known as FluMist which contains weakened viruses. Both types can sometimes have side effects such nasal congestion, fatigue, runny nose and headache. FluMist is only recommended for healthy people between two to 49 years old.

Flu prevention is a goal that should be on everybody’s mind. So if you are asking if you need to get it, then the answer is a big yes. In fact, the CDC suggested that everyone should get vaccinated. If you are pregnant, or have a chronic medical condition, then you have more reason to get the flu shot. Children below five years old and people more than 50 years old should definitely get vaccinated as they are more prone to getting the flu. Health care workers and people who live in long-term care facilities also have higher risks for being infected with the flu virus and should get the shot. People taking care of those who are at risk for developing complications due to the flu (the elderly, cancer, AIDS patients, children less than 6 months old, etc) needs to get a flu vaccine as well. If they get the flu then they could easily infect the people they are taking care of; getting a flu vaccine will prevent that. If you belong to any of the groups of people mentioned above, then it is an absolute must for you to get the flu vaccine.

Although the general rule is that everyone should be vaccinated, there are some exemptions. People who have severe allergies to chicken eggs, or to an earlier flu shot should not get vaccinated. Also, children less than six months old should not get it. People with a moderate to severe illness accompanied by fever should also wait until they are better before they get the shot. If you have a history of or developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome after a previous flu shot, consult your doctor first about getting vaccinated or not.

If you often get the flu, and do not have an allergy to chicken eggs or to the shot, then don’t hesitate to get vaccinated. I suggest that you get the shot before the flu season begins. The best time to get it is in October or in November because it takes around two weeks for it to be effective. Don’t worry if the flu season has already started and you haven’t got the shot yet, you can actually get it anytime you wish.

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