Influenza (Seasonal Flu) - Prevention
In spite of these results, many people choose not to get a flu vaccine. Some do not get the vaccine because of myths they believe about the flu or the vaccines. These include beliefs that the flu is a minor illness or that the vaccine causes the flu. The shot may cause side effects, such as soreness or fever, but they are usually minor and do not last long. And a type of flu shot (Fluzone Intradermal) is available that uses a much smaller needle than a regular flu shot. It is injected into the skin instead of into a muscle. This usually causes less discomfort at the time of the shot. People 18 to 64 years old can get this shot. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg.
Although antiviral medicines sometimes prevent the flu, they do not work in the same way as a yearly immunization and should not replace a flu shot or dose of the nasal spray vaccine.
The person who gives the vaccine may tell your child or you not to get it if your child or you:
- Have a severe allergy to eggs or any part of the vaccine.
- Have had a serious reaction to a previous dose of flu vaccine.
- Have had Guillain-Barré syndrome.
- Are sick. If you are ill and have a fever, wait until you're better before you get a flu vaccine.
Because the nasal spray vaccine is more expensive than a flu shot, it may not be covered by your health insurance plan. Check with your insurance company.
Almost every community has a program that offers flu vaccines at low cost during the flu season. You also can get a flu vaccine during a routine visit to a doctor or pharmacy. Many health clinics have set hours at the start of the flu season for people to get flu vaccines without needing to make an appointment.
- Flu Vaccines: Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?
Other ways to reduce your risk for the flu or flu complications
Increase your chance of staying healthy by:
- Washing your hands often, especially during winter months when the flu is most common.
- Keeping your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth. Viruses are most likely to enter your body through these areas.
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Not smoking. Smoking irritates the lining of your nose, sinuses, and lungs, which may make you susceptible to complications of the flu.