If you want a fighting chance against the flu, doctors recommend that you get an annual flu shot. The good news is that the flu shot side effects are minor and shouldn't be a concern if you're looking to get a flu shot vaccine. If you have no specific conditions or allergies to the flu shot, anyone over the age of 6 months can receive the flu vaccine. Because it takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect, it's best to get your flu shot early in the season. While many people are scared that one of the flu shot vaccine side effects is to get a bout of the flu, the truth is that the flu shot will NOT give you the flu: The flu virus in that needle going into your arm is dead, making it impossible for you to catch the flu by getting a flu shot or getting near someone who just had a flu shot vaccine. Because the flu shot side effects are so few, if you are in an at-risk group, don't play Russian roulette by not getting the flu shot vaccine - for many, it becomes a matter of life or death.
The Center for Disease Control urges the following at-risk groups to be immunized:
- people age 50 and over
- residents of nursing homes or other chronic-care facilities;
- adults and children who have chronic lung or heart problems, including children with asthma;
- adults and children who have chronic metabolic diseases (such as diabetes mellitus), renal dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies, or immunosuppression (such as HIV);
- children and teens who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy (who have the potential to develop Reye's Syndrome after the flu);
- women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy during the flu season.
You should also think seriously about getting a flu shot if:
- you are in contact with at-risk people. This includes health care providers, employees of nursing homes and chronic-care facilities, home-care providers, emergency-response people, and household members
- you live in an institutional setting, such as college students and members of the armed services