The Flu Shot – Should I Get One?

It’s that time of year again, and you’re seeing signs all over the place encouraging you to get a flu shot. Is it worth it? Who should have the flu shot?

Following is some basic information about the flu shot and who should, according to medical professionals, receive it.

Key Facts

These days, the flu shot comes in two forms, one of which does not involve a shot at all. The shot itself is a vaccination made from the dead flu virus. The shot covers various age groups. The “regular” shot is said to be fine for nearly everyone six months of age and older. But there is another flu shot specifically for those over the age of 65; it’s basically a higher dose. And finally, there is a third kind of shot called an “intradermal” (in the skin) shot that may be used on people between the ages of 18 and 64.

The flu vaccine that does not involve a shot is a nasal spray. It uses live viruses that have been weakened. You may hear this one called the LAIV, or Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine. It’s generally not recommended for chronically ill individuals, the elderly, or pregnant women.

So Who Should Have the Vaccination?

In February of 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a flu vaccination for everyone over the age of six months. However, there are individuals for whom the vaccine is more strongly indicated than others. Here are some of those types of individuals and situations.

* If you live or work with children under the age of two or people over the age of 65, experts recommend that you get a flu vaccination. This is because you work with age groups that are particularly vulnerable to serious complications from the flu.

* If you are over the age of 65, you are considered at high risk for complications from the flu.

* If you work with children under five years of age, medical experts recommend a flu vaccine.

* Pregnant women are considered high risk for complications, so the flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women.

* If you have asthma, this puts your lungs in a vulnerable state that might experience problems if you get the flu. Asthmatics are advised to get vaccinated.

* There are other medical conditions besides asthma that indicate a high risk for flu complications. Those with conditions such as epilepsy, stroke, mental impairment, neurological disorders, muscular dystrophy, and developmental delay(s) are advised to get a flu vaccine.

* Other disorders and illnesses that are said to increase risk of flu complications include: kidney and liver disorders, metabolic disorders, AIDS, HIV, cancer, morbid obesity, and those with blood, heart, and/or endocrine disorders.

* If you are a health care professional (whether you work in a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office, etc.), you are advised by most medical experts to get a flu shot. Childcare providers should also get vaccinated against flu.

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