You see the signs everywhere—in your doctor’s office, at your pharmacy, in the newspapers. Get your flu shot!
It is important for people—especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes—to be vaccinated. Now more than ever, there are choices of types of flu vaccines for those who may be “needle-phobic.”
There is the usual traditional injection, the newer intra-dermal vaccine, and the nasal spray, which contains a live virus and is not recommended for everyone.
The nasal spray vaccine is recommended for people ages 2 to 49 years old and should not be used by anyone who may be immuno-compromised or who will come in close contact with people with weak immune systems, such as HIV patients or transplant patients, for example. If you get the Flumist nasal vaccine, you should avoid coming into contact with immuno-compromised patients for at least seven days.
Fluzone Intradermal is a shot that is injected into the skin rather than muscle. The needle is much smaller than the usual needles for the flu vaccine. The intradermal vaccine is approved for use in adults age 18-64 years of age.
There is also a new high-dose option for seniors ages 65 and older, which you may come across. This vaccine was approved through an FDA accelerated drug approval process. Because seniors have a weaker immune system, due in part to the aging process, this stronger antigen mix may help keep the flu away more effectively in this age group. Keep in mind there are more potential side effects with the stronger flu vaccine, such as redness, swelling, and minor aches and pains. These side effects can also occur in some patients with the regular-dose flu shot as well.
Where do I get a flu shot?
Flu shots can be obtained at your doctor's office and in multiple other locations, such as flu clinics and local pharmacies. It is best to call ahead at the pharmacy so you don’t show up at a busy time and have to wait. The pharmacist may schedule an appointment or suggest times that may be best. Medicare and most insurance companies will pay for the cost of a flu shot. Otherwise, the cost is around $30.
Will the flu shot give me the flu?
Some people swear that the flu shot “gave them” the flu. This is simply not the case. You may get the flu after you are vaccinated because the shot does not give you the full protection for one to two weeks after you are vaccinated. If you are exposed to the flu, you may not get symptoms for a few days afterward.
A flu shot is no guarantee that you won’t get the flu
The shot itself is made up of strains that the CDC feels will be most likely to cause illness in a given season. Some people’s immune systems allow them to become ill even if they get are vaccinated every year.
Still, the vaccine is a good insurance policy for the winter months. The flu is no picnic, especially when you have diabetes.
Visit http://flushot.healthmap.org/ to find where vaccines are available, and remember: the best vaccine advice comes from your own healthcare team. Stay well!