Dr. Kim Miller of HonorHealth Medical Group answers some of the most common questions about the flu vaccine.
Who should be vaccinated against the flu?
- The Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine yearly.
- Children 6 months to 8 years old may need two doses during the flu season.
Will the flu shot give me the flu?
When should I get the flu shot?
- Flu season hits during the winter season, starting as early as October and peaks in January. However, Arizona is reporting widespread flu activity in April, making this a severe and late flu season for us.
- The flu vaccine takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in your system. Plan ahead and get the shot early in the season to protect yourself.
Is there anyone who should avoid the vaccine?
- People who've had a severe, life-threating reaction to the flu vaccine shouldn't receive it.
- If you've had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you should discuss options with your primary care provider.
How effective is the flu shot?
- Things like your overall health, your age and how closely the flu vaccine is matched with this year's strain of viruses will factor into the shot's effectiveness. The flu vaccine won't protect you 100 percent, but it's still your best bet for prevention.
- Additionally, getting the flu vaccine can decrease the severity of the flu if you still get it.
Are there live flu strains in the vaccine?
- The flu shot is made up of three to four dead, inactivated viruses, so you cannot get the flu from receiving a flu shot.
- The vaccine contains antigens that allow your body to develop immunity against the flu virus.
Are there preservative-free flu vaccines available?
- There are injectable vaccines that are preservative free, but they have a very short shelf-life and aren't routinely stocked. Ask your provider or pharmacist if they can get the vaccine for you.
- Preservatives, such as mercury-based Thimerosal, are added to extend the shelf life and to prevent germs from growing in the vaccine.
- Multi-dose flu shots may contain Thimerosal and other preservatives.
- Flu shots that come in a single-dose, as well as the nasal spray, don't contain Thimerosal.
Is there an alternative to getting a shot?
- Yes, the nasal spray vaccine has live-attenuated viruses, which are weakened so they can't harm your body. Getting a flu nasal spray can't give you the flu.
- Healthy men and women ages 2 – 49 and women who aren't pregnant may receive the nasal spray. If you have chronic health issues, ask your provider before receiving the nasal spray vaccine.
- The nasal spray doesn't contain Thimerosal or other preservatives.
If you're not feeling well, wait until you're feeling better to get the flu vaccine.
Vaccines are available at HonorHealth Medical Group primary and immediate care locations. Call 623-580-5800 to find a location nearest you. No appointment necessary at HonorHealth Medical Group Immediate Care locations.