Get Your Seasonal Flu Shot! - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital


Get Your Seasonal Flu Shot!

Nurses Jo Ellen and Miriam show how easy it is to get a flu shot.

Nurses Jo Ellen and Miriam show how easy it is to get a flu shot.

By Priyanka Randeria
Friday, December 10, 2010

It’s that time of the year again – flu season is here!  The best way to protect you from the seasonal flu is to get the flu vaccine.

How do I prevent getting and spreading the flu?
As mentioned, the single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. However, there are also good habits you can practice that can prevent you from getting or spreading the flu:
• Avoid close contact  with people who are sick
• Stay at home when you are sick
• Cover your mouth and your nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
• Wash your hands often or use a alcohol based hand rub
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
• Practice good health habits such as eating well, being physically active, managing stress, and  getting plenty of sleep.

Who should get the flu shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all people 6 months or older are recommend to receive the annual influenza vaccination.  While almost everyone should get a flu vaccine, it is especially important that the following groups get vaccinated because they are at high risk for having serious complications from getting the flu:
• Pregnant women
• Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
• People 50 years of age or older
• People of any age with certain chronic mental conditions
• People who live in nursing homes and other long term facilities
• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu such as health care workers, house hold contacts, care givers.

Who should NOT get the flu shot?
• Children under 6 months of age
• People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
• People who had a severe reaction to the flu show in the past
• People who are already sick with a fever (get the flu shot once you are well)

Is the flu shot safe?
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated) so the recipients cannot get the flu from the flu shot.
Most people have no side effects to the flu vaccine. Some minor side effects that happen in some people are soreness, redness, or swelling in the area where the shot was given, a low grade fewer, or aches. If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot was given and usually last 1 to 2 days. However, most people who receive the flu shot, have no serious problems from it.

Will I have to get two flu vaccines this season?
No. This year, the H1N1 flu vaccine is combined with the seasonal flu vaccine so most people will only need to get one shot.

When should I get vaccinated?
Vaccination should begin in September and continue throughout the flu season into January and February.  Since, most influenza activity peaks in January, receiving a shot prior to January is recommended.

How much does it cost?
For veterans, the flu shot is FREE at all VA Hospitals, Clinics (A, B, C, D, E, & F), and CBOCs.


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