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Important Info on Flu Shots

Types of Flu Shots

Until recently, you could get the flu shot only as an injection. However, in 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist®, which you can get from your healthcare provider. The FDA approved it for use in healthy people who are 5 to 49 years of age.
You should not use FluMist if you:
  • Have certain lung conditions, including asthma, or heart conditions
  • Have metabolic disorders, such as diabetes or kidney dysfunction
  • Have an immunodeficiency disease or are on immunosuppressive treatment
  • Have had Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a history of allergy or hypersensitivity to any of the parts of FluMist or to eggs
  • Are a child or teenager who regularly takes aspirin or products containing aspirin.

When Should I Get the Flu Shot?

Your immune system takes time to respond to the flu shot. Therefore, you should get vaccinated six to eight weeks before flu season begins in November to prevent getting infected or to reduce the severity of the flu if you do get it. However, flu season usually lasts until March, so it is not too late to get the flu shot after the season has begun. The flu vaccine itself cannot cause the flu, but you could become exposed to the virus by someone else and get infected soon after you are vaccinated.

Side Effects of the Flu Shot

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of people who get the flu shot will have mild side effects for about a day after vaccination. The most common side effect in children and adults is soreness at the site of the injection. Other side effects, especially in children who previously have not been exposed to the flu virus, include:
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Sore muscles.
These side effects may begin 6 to 12 hours after the flu shot, and may last for up to two days.
Viruses for producing the flu shot are grown in chicken eggs and then killed with a chemical so that they can no longer cause an infection. The shot may contain some egg protein, which can cause an allergic reaction. Therefore, if you are allergic to eggs or have ever had a serious allergic reaction to the flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you consult with your healthcare provider before getting one.
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