Should I get a flu shot?

Should I get a flu shot?

It’s that time of year again. People will be rushing in and out of stores, schools and other public buildings. They will encounter crowds as they board trains and planes and enter arenas, theaters and concert halls. Unfortunately, some of them will bring with them a most unwelcome guest: the flu.

Influenza, or the flu, causes an average of 36,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People age 50 years or older, young children, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system or long-term health problems, like heart or lung difficulties, are particularly at risk to complications resulting from the flu.

A flu shot — a vaccine that contains a “dead” virus — cannot give you the flu, but it does teach your immune system to recognize the flu virus and fight it. You may experience some soreness or redness in the area where the shot was given. Fever or achiness is rare side effect, and the possibility of allergic reaction is even less prevalent.

The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months and older. The immunization is considered safe for pregnant women as well as mothers who are nursing. If you have a fever, wait until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours.

As soon as you begin to see advertisements offering flu shots, consider getting vaccinated. Even though the peak flu season is from December through March, flu can threaten as early as October. The CDC recommends you receive a shot before December so your body can begin to produce protective antibody agents. It’s important to remember that a flu shot usually takes about two weeks to take optimal effect in your body.

A flu shot can be acquired at various drug stores, health care facilities, and physician’s offices. If you have further questions about flu shots, it’s recommended that you speak with a physician. Sign in to Angie’s List to find highly rated doctors in the Chicago area.

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