5 things to know about flu shots

Mary Small

As a registered nurse for 39 years, Mary Small has seen her share of people suffering from the flu.

“It knocks you out,” she says. “You really don’t want to get it again, once you’ve had it.”

And this is a 10- to 14-day illness, says the public information officer for the Chelan-Douglas Health District.

Want to increase your chances of NOT getting the flu? Get a flu shot, she says. Beyond that, cover your mouth with your arm or sleeve when you cough.

Here are five things to know about getting this preventative shot.

1) Now through November is the best time to get a shot. There is a lot of vaccine available but that could diminish as time goes on. The shot also takes two weeks to be effective, and getting one soon should protect you against the first cases of the illness, which usually come after Thanksgiving.

2) The shot is effective for the year, so it should protect you through the next peak period. That is usually right after the Christmas holidays, and may be related to people traveling and getting together in groups.

3) Everyone except those under 6 months old should get a flu shot. The vaccine has no effect on the very young but they can still get the flu. That makes it all the more important for people around them to get a shot.

4) The shot does not give you the flu. It is killed virus so what it does is rev up the immune system to produce antibodies. Most people who get a shot feel only a mild soreness in their upper arm where they’ve gotten the shot. The exception might be people who have never had a flu shot before. Their immune system may get triggered to the point where they feel a bit rundown and have a small fever for about a day.

5) Flu shots are available at some local clinics and at many pharmacies. Insurance usually covers the cost, as does Medicare and Medicaid. If you are allergic to eggs, an alternative shot is available that does not have egg protein in it. Talk to your health-care provider or a pharmacist to see if you are a candidate for that vaccine.