Health – Getting your flu shot: Fight back against influenza!

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Fall evokes memories of cool nights, pumpkin pie and family gatherings. It also signals the beginning of the influenza season in the United States. Influenza vaccines remain our greater defense for this serious and sometimes deadly illness.

Influenza vaccinations are provided annually usually starting in late August to early September. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months obtain the vaccine each year. The vaccines are regarded as very safe and there are many benefits for obtaining the vaccine. Several forms of the vaccine are available and many different locations.

Influenza vaccines are very safe. Despite popular belief, you can not get influenza from the vaccine. The most common side effect associated with the vaccine is redness, discomfort and swelling at the site of the injection. This reaction is usually mild and lasts only a few days. Major side effects and reactions are very rare. Benefits from the vaccine greatly outweigh the risks. The influenza vaccine helps prevent you from contracting the illness by triggering your immune system to build antibodies as protection from the virus. This process generally takes up to two weeks before you develop full immunity. Some people can still contract influenza despite obtaining the vaccine, however, those who obtained the vaccine generally have a more mild case of the illness and are less likely to be hospitalized due to complications from influenza.

For the 2016-2017 influenza season, several different injectable vaccines are available including a high dose option for those over age 65 and a vaccine for those with severe egg allergies. The CDC does not recommend the use of nasal spray influenza vaccines this year due to concerns over their effectiveness. Vaccinations can be obtained from many sources including your primary care provider and pharmacy. Many community healthy organizations and state health departments also arrange vaccination drives at low or no cost to the community. The CDC also provides a Flu Vaccine Finder on their website to assist in locating the closest provider to your zip code.

Regardless of the vaccine, you chose the important thing is to simply be vaccinated. Vaccinations can protect those closest to you such as young children, elderly individuals and those with chronic medical conditions who are at greatest risk from this potentially deadly disease. Check here to learn other ways to protect you and your family. No matter where you go, or which vaccine you chose, simply chose to be vaccinated and fight back against influenza.