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It only hurts for a few seconds and could lower your risk of getting the flu by about half. Getting the flu vaccine is worth the needlestick. It’s the best way to protect yourself from seasonal flu, and everyone 6 months and older should get the vaccine as part of their routine vaccination schedule.
Flu season typically begins in October and peaks December through February. It’s smart to get your flu shot early, as it usually takes about two weeks for the shot’s immunity to kick in. Scientists work each year to develop a vaccine that will help protect against strains they predict will be common.
Pregnant women, adults age 65 and older, children younger than 5, and people with long-term health conditions like asthma, diabetes or cancer are at a high risk of developing complications from the flu and should definitely get vaccinated.
The flu is much worse than symptoms of a common cold and can include fever, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache or fatigue. It can also cause more serious complications like pneumonia, sepsis, inflammation of the brain or heart, or worsening of long-term health problems like asthma or heart failure.
The virus is easily spread from person-to-person through something as simple as a cough or sneeze. If you touch a surface that has the flu virus and then come in contact with your mouth, nose or eyes, you are at risk for getting symptoms.
Some people are skeptical about the flu shot because friends, family or acquaintances report mild reactions like soreness, redness or swelling at the spot where the shot was given. These symptoms usually last only a few days if they appear, and common reactions are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by the actual flu. Significant side effects are very rare.
Getting a flu vaccine does not offer complete protection against contracting the flu but does lower your chances and makes cases less severe if you do contract it. Even those vaccinated should still be practicing regular and proper hand-washing techniques and limiting their contact with sick people. Children younger than 6 months old, people with life-threatening allergies to any ingredients in the vaccine or people who are feeling ill should not get vaccinated.