Flu Shot (also known as influenza vaccinations)
‘Tis the season for flu shots, now through early December. Influenza, a common winter disease, is responsible for millions of lost work days each year. In individuals with weakened immune systems, influenza can cause serious disability and even death.
Recent studies have shown the cost-effectiveness of giving flu vaccine to healthy, working individuals. A study in the Minneapolis area showed that people getting flu shots had 25% fewer upper respiratory infections, 43% fewer sick days, and 44% fewer visits to physicians’ offices for upper respiratory illnesses. The cost savings were estimated to be over $45 per vaccinated individual.
What is the flu (influenza)?
Influenza is a respiratory tract infection caused by a virus. Influenza usually attacks 10% to 20% of the unvaccinated population. Patients with influenza get fever, muscle aches, sore throat, cough, and headache. They usually feel very tired and worn out, and that fatigue may extend for weeks.
Who SHOULD get a flu shot?
- Healthy people who don’t want to get flu
- People over 60 years of age
- People with chronic illnesses, especially of the respiratory tract, such as asthma, emphysema, and related problems.
- Health care workers who take care of individuals at risk for influenza.
Who should NOT get a flu shot?
Flu vaccine is not recommended for people who are allergic to eggs or certain preservatives, or who have a history of reacting badly to flu vaccine. If in doubt, check with your physician.
Can’t the flu shot give you the flu?
No. The flu vaccine is a “killed virus” vaccine that causes your body to develop antibodies to fight off the living flu “bug.” After vaccination, some people get body aches, headache, or even low grade fever, but that is relatively rare. Such reactions were more common ten to fifteen years ago than they are now, with current vaccines.
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