Health Tips

Why It’s Important To Get Your Yearly Flu Vaccine

This flu season has reminded us of the importance of getting a flu vaccine. During this very active season, many flu cases have led to hospitalization and even death. Getting your flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Types Of Flu Vaccines

Any flu shot offers you protection, but there are two specific types recommended by the CDC for the 2017-2018 flu season: a trivalent vaccine, and a quadrivalent vaccine.

“Both will offer you adequate protection from the flu, so get whichever option is available,” says Aishah Ali, M.D., an allergist and immunologist at UCF Health.

Who Should Get A Flu Shot?

According to the CDC, those with medical conditions such as asthma, lung disease or diabetes, or who are pregnant or 65 years or older, have the highest risk of complications from the virus and should make getting an influenza vaccination 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 receive a flu vaccine. Having an egg allergy does not mean you cannot get the flu vaccine.

“Your doctor should be able to administer the flu vaccine to you even if you have a history of egg allergy,” says Dr. Ali.

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 resolve 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. Get your flu shot early in the flu season to avoid this – ideally in October or earlier if available. But if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, get it immediately. It will still provide some protection.

Benefits Of Flu Vaccine

1. 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. Protect others around you who are at greatest risk for complications from 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 Oseltamivir, also known as Tamiflu. It may help to decrease your chances of getting influenza after the exposure. Contact your healthcare provider for details.

Other Vaccinations

Like influenza, there are other diseases and illnesses that can be prevented by receiving a vaccination.  Some recommended vaccinations include the shingles vaccine, for those 60 or older, the HPV vaccine, for females 26 or younger and males 21 or younger, and the pneumococcal vaccine for those 65 or older. Those with chronic lung disease, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease or other high-risk groups should also get the pneumonia vaccine. Please see your doctor if you are unsure about your vaccination history.

Vaccines have been important in helping eradicate dangerous diseases such as polio and smallpox. Although a vaccination never guarantees 100 percent prevention, it’s your best option to stay healthy and protect yourself from disease.

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 UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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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 in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.

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