When you think about fall, what do you picture? Football games, colorful leaves, flu shots? Well maybe not flu shots, but this is the time when people 6 months of age or older should be planning to get vaccinated against the flu.
Every year a group of medical experts decides what strains of flu vaccine should be included in that flu shot. For the past two years, the flu shot contained the same vaccine strains. This year, however, two new strains have been chosen and only one of the previous strains retained.
Most people only need one flu shot per year. However, children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years of age who have never had a flu shot should receive 2 doses of the new flu vaccine. These should occur at least 4 months apart. This will increase the effectiveness of the vaccine to prevent the flu. Also children between 6 months and 8 years of age who did not receive a total of 2 flu shots since July 1, 2010, will also probably need two doses this year.
Flu vaccines are made using eggs. If you or your child is allergic to eggs, talk to your doctor before getting a flu shot. If the allergic reaction to eggs has been mild, taking the flu shot is probably low risk. However, if the allergic reaction has been serious, special precautions may be needed when the shot is given. Certainly someone known to have an allergic reaction to eggs should have the flu shot at a doctor’s office equipped to handle these reactions and not at a pharmacy. Plan to stay at the doctor’s office at least 30 minutes after the shot to be sure no reaction occurs.
Taking the flu shot cannot guarantee 100% you will not get the flu. But if you do get sick, you will probably have a milder case and recover more easily.
Questions??? Call me in Columbus at 706.653.4200.
By Joanne S. Cavis, CFCS
UGA Cooperative Extension
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