Should You Get the Flu Shot?
Every year, you’re likely to hear strong opinions from plenty of people on whether or not the flu shot is beneficial. Personal anecdotes can provide food for thought, but looking at data from studies designed to examine the effectiveness of the flu shot can provide better guidance, especially for those already suffering from a chronic illness. Read on for information that can help you decide if the flu shot is right for you.
Flu Shot: Separating Fact from Fiction
Myth: The flu shot isn’t effective every year.
Truth: The effectiveness of the flu shot does vary based on several factors, including health and age of the person being treated, as well as the closeness of the “match” between the flu vaccine and the prevalent flu strains. For instance, you may have heard that the 2014-2015 flu shots were not well matched and thus not very effective. However, it’s important to know that, even in cases where the match is less than perfect, the flu vaccine still provides protection from the flu and flu-related complications, as well as potentially reducing the length of illness.
Myth: Immunocompromised people shouldn’t get the flu shot.
Truth: There are two main methods of vaccinating against the flu: the nasal spray (live virus) and the flu shot. While it is true that people with weakened immune systems should NOT receive the nasal spray vaccine, those same people should also be prioritized when it comes to receiving the flu shot. When receiving certain biologic infusion and injection therapies, live vaccines can be harmful to the body. However, vaccines containing dead viral material pose much less harm. It’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider when considering taking vaccines.
Myth: The flu shot can give you the flu.
Truth: The flu shot can indeed have mild side effects, including achiness, low-grade fever and soreness at the site of the shot. However, flu symptoms can be much more severe. The nasal spray vaccine can cause a runny nose, headaches, sore throat and cough in adults, plus wheezing, vomiting and fever in children. However, the side effects for both the nasal spray and the flu shot are mild and short-lived in most cases.
Who Should Get the Flu Shot?
The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months be vaccinated for the flu every year. On top of that, people who are more likely to suffer flu-related complications should make getting vaccinated a high priority. Those people include:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Also, American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
- Chronic lung disease
- Heart disease
- Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
- Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes)
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Weakened immune system due to disease or medication
- People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- People who are morbidly obese
People with many of the conditions we treat at IVX Health will benefit from the flu shot, but as always, talk to your healthcare team to ensure the flu shot is right for you.
Chronic Condition Treatment at IVX Health
If your treatment regimen includes biologic infusion or injection treatments such as Remicade or Ocrevus, consider IVX Health for your care. We offer appointments that fit your schedule (days, evenings and weekends) in comfortable private suites so you can enjoy your time while receiving treatment. If you’re ready to experience how we are redefining care for patients with chronic conditions, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our many convenient locations.