Marla Ahlgrimm. The retired pharmacist explains that now is the time to start thinking about getting your flu shot.
Q: What is the flu shot?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The flu shot is one of the most common vaccines in the United States. It is essentially an inactive form of the flu virus. Once injected into the body, your immune system reacts by producing antibodies that provide a significant amount of protection from influenza.
Q: Are these protective qualities immediate?
Marla Ahlgrimm: No. It takes approximately two weeks before protection kicks in, and mid-September is an ideal time to receive the vaccine. That gives the body the chance to react and appropriately respond to the flu virus. You should also know that getting the shot does not guarantee that you won’t get the flu. Thankfully, you are less likely to suffer significant effects and will probably recover quicker if you are vaccinated.
Q: Should everyone get the flu shot?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Everyone who is healthy and over six months of age can benefit from receiving the vaccine. It is especially important, however, for those who are most at risk of complications. Elderly individuals, women who are pregnant, and those with chronic lung disease, asthma, and heart problems are in this group.
Q: Is it safe?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes. However, a few people who get the flu shots experience mild side effects including a low-grade fever and irritation at the site of the injection. These are usually gone within 24 to 48 hours. Serious reactions are extremely rare. Contrary to popular belief, the flu shot does not give you the flu, and it does not cause autism. Unfortunately, people who are allergic to eggs and those who’ve recently had Guillain-Barré syndrome cannot safely receive the flu shot. These individuals must remain hypervigilant throughout flu season – usually October through March – and stay away from people who exhibit any signs of an illness.