Cold and flu season is once again around the corner, which means it’s time to decide whether or not you’ll roll the dice this year by skipping a flu shot. According to the CDC approximately 10-20 out of every 10,000 people will become infected with a strain of influenza. The virus mutates every year to two years, so vaccines from previous years are no guarantee of protection against current strains – although this year, the strain is largely unchanged from last year. Health professionals warn, however, that doesn’t mean you can skip your shot this year if you had one last year. On average, the vaccine remains effective for approximately 8 to 10 months in a healthy adult – just long enough to get through the most active portion of the cold and flu season.
For those thinking of avoiding the shot because of a small phobia of needles – you’ve got options this year. You can go with the micro shot which is a tiny needle that just barely pierces the surface of the skin, or, you can opt for the trans-nasal spray variety that works very similar to any nasal decongestant spray you may have used in the past. Alternatively, if you’re avoiding a shot because of reports from friends that the shot “made them sick,” it’s time for a reality check. Yes, a small portion of the population reports a common side effect to vaccination known medically as a vaccine reaction. A mild fever, runny nose, upset stomach, or achiness may occur within 24-48 hours post vaccination as the body responds to compounds within the vaccine. This is NOT the same as the body reacting to the minute sample of virus contained within the vaccine. It is worth noting also that the virus is inactivated in the vaccine anyway, meaning it can’t replicate and infect you the way a live, active virus would. In most cases, people with vaccine reactions are responding to a stabilizing compound or antibacterial element. These reactions usually only last a day or two and are considerably milder than actual flu symptoms (which can last up to a week or longer).
Still not convinced? Consider the following: flu shots cost as little as $5 or may even be free with depending on your health care coverage. You can get the shot at your local pharmacy during your lunch break, no need for a doctor’s appointment. And, if you do roll the dice, antiviral medications like Tamiflu are in lower supply than vaccines with no guarantee that they’ll actually remedy your infection once you have it.