With winter fast approaching, it’s time for you to start thinking about protecting yourself from influenza. Seasonal flu can cause serious side effects, especially in the most vulnerable. These include pneumonia, infections, dehydration and breathing problems. One of the best ways to help prevent flu is by getting a flu shot. Studies show that vaccinations are around 40-60% effective in protecting individuals against flu and stopping it spreading. Although it’s not 100% effective, not getting a shot means you have no extra protection when exposed to flu.
Who needs the flu shot?
The flu vaccine is suitable for most people, but can be particularly beneficial for high risks groups. It’s recommended that children between 6 months and 8 years who haven’t had flu before should be given a flu shot. Children under 5 are especially vulnerable and at higher risk of complications from flu. Women who are pregnant should be given the flu shot, as well as those who are planning to get pregnant and women who are breastfeeding. The immunity from the flu shot will also be passed onto the baby which is a bonus. Those will underlying medical conditions and long term illnesses are also at much higher risk of complications from flu and it’s advised that they receive a flu shot in winter.
When’s the best time to have it?
You should get your flu shot as early as possible. Doctors, nurses and hospital workers should have vaccines now, and it’s better to get it done as early as possible to get the full benefits. Ideally, it’s recommended that the shot is given by the end of October. Flu can be unpredictable, but usually peaks in the early winter months. Getting your shot at least two weeks before being exposed to the illness is the best way to make sure you’re fully protected. It’s important especially for high risks groups to make sure the flu shot is given in time for the peak of flu season which is November to March.
Are there any side effects?
Like most vaccines, the flu shot does come with some side effects. The effects are usually mild and include soreness and swelling in the injection site, mild fever and body aches. Only a very small percentage of people will actually have a fever as a side effect. Serious side effects are very rare, but include allergic reactions, dizziness, high fever and swelling around the eyes and lips. If any of these serious side effects occur individuals are advised to seek immediate medical advice. In young children, the side effects can include headaches, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches and fever. There are some reports that the shot can cause flu in some people. However there is insufficient evidence to prove that this is the case, and the flu vaccine has be proven to be safe in the vast majority of people.