Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated against the flu this season? However, because there are there are several different types of flu vaccine, it is important to consult your family medicine doctor in Seven Fields to ensure that you get the right type for your specific needs. Read on to learn which questions to ask your doctor before getting the flu vaccine.
What Is the Flu Vaccine?
The influenza vaccine, also called the flu shot, is an inactivated virus designed to protect individuals from the 3 or 4 most prevalent strains of influenza virus. These inactivated viruses contain antigens that trigger the body’s immune response. Antibodies against the most common flu virus develop within 1 to 2 weeks after getting the vaccine and may last up to 1 year.
Are There Different Types of Flu Vaccine?
The standard flu shot is called a trivalent vaccine because it is made to protect against 3 different flu viruses; however, the CDC also develops other variations of the vaccine to meet the needs of specific high-risk groups. The following are some of the most common variations of the flu vaccine:
- FluMist: This vaccine is a nasal spray available to individuals ages 2 to 49 who do not have any contradictions to it.
- Intradermal shots: This vaccine is injected into the skin rather than the muscle and requires a much smaller needle than the traditional shot. It is available to individuals between the ages of 18 and 64.
- Fluzone high-dose: This vaccine contains 4 times the antigen dose per strand as the standard flu shot and is designed for individuals ages 65 and older.
- Flublok: This vaccine is a recombinant vaccine manufactured without the use of eggs for individuals 18 years and older with egg allergies.
What Are the Side Effects of the Flu Shot?
Although you cannot get the flu from the flu shot, it can cause minor side effects and allergic reactions. The following are some of the most common side effects of the flu shot:
- Redness, soreness, or swelling around the injection site
- Low-grade fever
- Body aches
- Rare allergic reactions including breathing problems, hives, increased heart rate, or dizziness
Should I Get the Flu Shot or the FluMist?
The flu shot and the FluMist both provide the same level of protection against the influenza virus, but offer different advantages and disadvantages. The following are the most common advantages and disadvantages of the flu shot and the FluMist vaccines:
- Flu shot: This vaccine is made from a dead influenza virus and is available to anyone 6 months of age or older. There are several different variations of the flu shot and the most common side effect is soreness in the arm. The flu shot is considered safe for a larger population than the FluMist.
- FluMist: This vaccine is made from a live attenuated influenza virus and is available to individuals ages 2 to 49 who are generally healthy and not pregnant. This vaccine is a good choice for individuals who do not like needles, but because it is made from a weakened virus, may cause more flu-like side effects than the shot.
Who Should Not Get the Flu Shot?
The flu shot is considered extremely safe for the vast majority of the population. However, the following high-risk groups should consult a family medicine doctor in Seven Fields before receiving the shot:
- Individuals with a history of severe reaction to the flu vaccine
- Individuals with a severe allergy to eggs
- Individuals with a moderate to severe illness should delay getting the vaccine
- Children under the age of 6 months
- Individuals with Guillain-Barre syndrome
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