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Have you had your flu shot?

The flu season is officially upon us. If you’ve ever had the flu, you know it can come with fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, headache, fatigue and a runny or stuffy nose. But what you may not know is that the flu can also lead to pneumonia and blood infections. For children, it can cause diarrhea and seizures. And if you, or someone you love, have a heart or lung disease, the flu can make it worse. In fact, thousands of people in the United States die from the flu every year.

Infants, young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and those with weakened immune system are the individuals who are at most risk.

What can the flu shot do for you? The flu shot can prevent you from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if you do get it and also prevent you from spreading the flu to your family, your workplace and your community. Workers in public settings like teachers, daycare employees, public workers, hospital workers and healthcare providers are at more exposure for the flu, so it’s important they receive a vaccination. Additionally, people who live in close quarters with others such as college students or military are also at a greater risk of exposure.

As with any medicine, with a flu vaccine, there is a chance of reactions. They are usually mild and go away on their own. The majority of people that get a flu shot don’t have any problems with the vaccine. But following a flu shot, some people report minor problems like soreness, and redness or swelling where the shot was administered. Aside from that, people may also experience hoarseness, sore, red or itchy eyes, cough, fever, aches, itching or fatigue. It is important to note, however,  that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. There are no live, active flu viruses in the vaccine, so it will not make you sick with the flu.  If you have severe life-threatening allergies, if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome, or are not feeling well, you should not get the flu vaccine.

The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. However, as with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing serious injury or death. Within minutes or hours after receiving a flu vaccine if someone experiences a severe allergic reaction characterized by hives, swelling off the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness and weakness, call 9-1-1 and get them to the nearest hospital. For more information, visit the CDC Vaccine Safety page.

Getting your flu shot is the single best way to protect against getting the flu. You can schedule an appointment to receive a flu shot at your family care physician’s office. If you’re looking for a family care physician please visit GRMC’s Primary Care Physician Page.

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