October 04, 2016

Time for a Flu Shot

For kids, October is the month for trick or treating, but while young thoughts turn to costumes and candy, parents are more likely outside raking leaves or indoors searching for sweaters and scarves. Of all the regular rituals of fall, though, perhaps none is more important than getting a flu shot.

The flu is a virus that comes on quickly and, typically, causes fevers, aches and pains so powerful they can keep you in bed for a week or more. Unfortunately, for the very young or old, pregnant women and people with certain chronic illnesses and weakened immune systems, the flu can lead to hospitalizations or worse.

Fortunately, the flu vaccine, a quick shot recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older, can help keep you from catching the flu, or, if you do get sick, make your symptoms less severe. The nasal spray vaccine, offered to children in previous years, is not recommended this year because it did not offer enough protection.

Side effects of a flu shot are rare and mild. You may feel soreness at the site of the injection and, in some cases, small children may develop a low fever that comes and goes quickly. It’s important to know that a flu shot does not give you the flu, and, according to thorough research, does not cause autism.

In many places, you no longer need an appointment to get a flu shot. Some clinics and pharmacies are now offering walk-in services and the whole procedure takes just a few minutes. Check with your own clinic or pharmacist to see what’s available.

Of course, the most desirable way to deal with colds and flu is to prevent them, altogether. Besides getting the vaccine, protect yourself by washing your hands frequently and using a hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available. Remember to do this after using public or shared items like keyboards, phones, doorknobs, ATM’s, elevator buttons, railings, and shopping carts, etc. Do yourself and others a favor by offering to bump fists or elbows to avoid shaking hands.

In this time of ghosts and goblins, WHIO urges you to get a flu shot and use common sense to help yourself and your family stay healthy this winter.