To Flu Shot or Not?

0 Comments 13 September 2012

‘Tis the season for sickness. When the weather starts changing, the runny noses start, the coughs increase and the all around no-feel-goods. The option for a flu shot is always on the table this time of year, but should you get your child the shot or not? There’s a lot of buzz floating around whether the shot is beneficial or whether it can be detrimental to your health. So, before getting your child the flu shot this year, weigh the pros and cons to see if it’s the right decision.

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Flu shots can be life-saving. More than 200,000 people in the United States alone are hospitalized for the flu each year and out of those people, 36,000 die from causes related to the flu. Getting the flu shot could potentially save your life. You always hear that the flu shot actually contains the flu, which it contains a strain of the flu virus itself but is a totally inactivated form of the virus. The flu shot is also safer than one may think. For a long time parents were concerned that a preservative that is used within the vaccine (thimerosal) was linked to autism in children. After numerous studies, it is shown that there is no link between the vaccines that contain thimerosal and autism. If you’re still worried about the thimerosal, know that children’s flu shots do not contain it any longer and adults can request thimerosal-free vaccines as well. Another pro to the flu shot is that the shots are very easy to get. You don’t have to go to a doctor for the flu shot. Most pharmacies will give you a shot without an appointment for a reasonable fee and on the spot.

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However, there are still a few cons to the flu shot. The flu shot might not be safe for all people. If you are allergic to eggs, the flu shot is cultivated inside of chicken eggs and it may put you at risk. So before getting the flu shot, consult your physician. Flu shots can also have minor side effects. Some people have been known to develop soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; low-grade fever or aches may also occur. These symptoms are usually mild and no cause for concern and will resolve within a day or two. When getting a flu shot, it’s not a one-shot deal. Since the flu virus changes each year, the vaccines are re-formulated and annually to keep up. Lastly, flu shots aren’t 100% proven effective. A recent study found that flu shots were only about 59% effective in healthy adults. The annual flu shot may protect you from this season’s most dominant strain of flu, but unfortunately, it won’t protect you from all the other bugs that might be floating around out there.

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So, before taking your child (or even yourself) to get the flu shot, weigh the pros and cons to make sure it’s something you’re willing to do.


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