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As flu season approaches, it’s important to receive your yearly shot. Doctors recommend getting one before Halloween to prevent contracting and spreading the flu.

Types of flu vaccines

Any flu shot will offer you protection, but the CDC recommends trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines for the 2018-2019 flu season.

Who should get a flu shot?

According to the CDC, people with medical conditions such as asthma, lung disease or diabetes, as well as those who are pregnant or 65 years or older have the highest risk of complications from the virus, and should make getting vaccinated a priority. Pregnant women can and should get the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their baby.

Children younger than 6 months and those with life-threatening allergies to ingredients in the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

Contrary to rumors, the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. You may experience mild side effects after receiving the vaccine, such as soreness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches. These side effects should pass in a day or two. It takes about two weeks for your body to build up the antibodies from the flu vaccine, so it is still possible to contract the flu during this window of time. To reduce the likeliness of this occurring, get your shot early in the flu season, ideally in October, or earlier if it’s available.

Benefits of flu vaccine

1. It can decrease your risk for getting the flu.

2. If you do get the flu, it can reduce the risk of severe flu symptoms, flu-related medical complications, hospitalizations and deaths.

3. It protects others around you who are at greatest risk for complications as a result of getting the flu: the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

4. Getting a flu vaccination also reduces the risk of the virus spreading among people around you.

If you come into contact with someone who has the flu, you may fit the criteria to receive an antiviral drug (brand name Tamiflu) to decrease your chances of becoming ill. Contact your healthcare provider for details.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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