It’s flu season again, and you may be deciding whether or not to get this year’s vaccine for yourself and your family. So at Pomona Valley Health Centers (PVHC) we want to share some important facts about the flu vaccine.
First, this year’s vaccine, or for that matter any year’s, is not the same as the one from the year before. Each year theCenters for Disease Control (CDC) works with the World Health Organization(WHO) to develop a new vaccine designed specifically to combat those strains of flu that have been determined to be most likely to cause an outbreak in the coming season.
So even if you have had vaccines before, you may or may not be protected from this year’s anticipated flu strains.
Second, not everyone should get vaccinated. Even the CDC, which recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot, adds the warning “unless you are allergic.” We’ll discuss who might be allergic in a moment but first let’s cover a few other pros and cons.
Flu Shot Pros:
1. You can’t get the flu from the vaccine. Plain and simple, viruses are used to make vaccines but the viruses used are already dead – so they can’t give you influenza. (However some people develop symptoms ranging from soreness and swelling at the area of injection to a low-grade fever and dull aches, which can last a day or two).
2. The 2012/2013 vaccine offers protection from 3 strains of flu: In addition to the H1N1 virus strain that caused so much concern last year, and is still a problem, this year’s vaccine protects against two other strains that have been identified as possible concern here in the United States.
3. There is an alternative to the needle. This year you can opt for a nasal spray flu vaccine that’s just as effective as the injection. And, it’s approved for healthy people between the ages of 2 and 49. Please let us know if this is the vaccine style that you’d prefer – we will confirm whether or not it is covered by your health insurance.
Flu Shot Cons:
1. Full protection isn’t immediate, so do not wait. Once you get the vaccine it takes your body about two weeks to build up the anti-bodies that protect you from the flu. During that time we recommend that you continue to avoid close contact with people showing signs of the flu.
2. Totally avoiding the flu isn’t guaranteed. As noted above the vaccine protects against specific flu strains, so it is still possible to get the flu if you come into contact with a strain that is not covered in this year’s vaccine.
3. It could contain a small amount of mercury. Flu shots contain a preservative called Thimerosal that has small amounts of mercury. Mercury has been linked to certain brain and nerve disorders and that fact alone may be a concern for some individuals. At PVHC, we feel that the benefit of the flu shot outweighs any threats that the tiny amount of mercury imparts.
4. If you are allergic to eggs it may not be safe for you. The flu vaccine is cultivated inside of chicken eggs so people who are allergic should avoid getting the vaccine. Here are a few other groups of people who should avoid flu shots:
- People with a fever or illness that is more than “just a cold”
- Anyone who has shown a moderate to severe reaction after a previous influenza shot
- Pregnant women or women attempting to conceive due to the mercury content
- Anyone who has ever been paralyzed due to Guillain-Barre syndrome
So, that’s pretty much the good and bad of getting a flu shot. For most of us getting a yearly shot will provide protection from the influenza strains most likely to hit the United States this year. With that protection you can avoid the down time and discomfort that the flu brings. But, as noted above if you are going to get the vaccine, do it now as it can take a couple of weeks to provide full protection.
“By far most people will benefit from the added protection of the yearly flu vaccine, and unless you fall into one of the “at risk” groups, I would recommend that you take the opportunity to get the flu vaccine for yourself and the other members of your family. It’s a lot better than spending a week or more with the flu.” Duane Styles, MD, PVHC Family Medical Physician
Contact PVHC to make an appointment to schedule your family’s flu appointments…we offer convenient daytime, evening and weekend hours through our Urgent Care offices in Claremont and Chino Hills.
For more information on protecting yourself and your family during flu season visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm
Protecting Your Personal Information
Today, more than ever, people are concerned about protecting their personal and healthcare information. At PVHC we take this very seriously. In addition to following allThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act HIPAA privacy and security regulations regarding the collection and sharing of patient information, we also have established policies and procedures that further guarantee that your information is only shared and seen by healthcare personnel directly associated with your care. You can be assured that your privacy is protected. If you have any questions about our patient privacy policies please contact us here with your inquiries.
Check back in with the PVHC blog to get regular updates and important insights on health topics. At PVHC, we’re committed to serving you and your family. After all, this is your life. This is your health. This is your PVHC.
If you have questions or would like to make an appointment, contact Pomona Valley Health Centers