November 15, 2010

Flu Vaccine 101: The Who, Why, Where, and When About the Flu Vaccine!

Why get vaccinated?
Dr. Livingston receiving his flu vaccine.
Have you gotten vaccinated this year?
Flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus that can cause fever, sore throat, chills, fatigue, cough, headache, and muscle aches. It can also cause high fever and pneumonia, and make existing medical conditions worse. Each year thousands of people die from seasonal influenza and even more require hospitalization.

“I think vaccination is a very important and safe measure for children and adults to easily protect themselves from a very real threat during the winter,” says Dr. Leon Livingston.

Who should get vaccinated?
“I get the flu vaccine every year,” says Dr. Livingston. “Our entire staff gets immunized and I recommend it to all my patients.”

In fact, all people 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Infants, children, and pregnant women are especially at risk and can get much sicker if they get the flu. Children under six months cannot be vaccinated, but their caretakers definitely should!

How does the vaccine work?
Every year scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu. The 2010-2011 vaccine provides protection against H1N1 influenza as well as two other flu viruses. Even if you were vaccinated for H1N1 last year, you should still get the flu shot this year for optimal protection. You won’t need two shots this year since H1N1 vaccine is included in the seasonal vaccine. Children under nine years who are getting their first flu vaccine may need a second dose. Check with your doctor to see if you need a booster.

What’s the difference between the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine?
The flu shot is made with killed virus and is injected into the muscle with a needle. It’s appropriate for most people age 6 months and older, including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. The nasal spray is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. It is appropriate for people age 2-49 years old who are not pregnant and do not have certain medical conditions. Both methods help your body develop antibodies to protect against influenza virus. Talk to your doctor about what is most appropriate for your child!

Where do I sign up?
There is no need to make an appointment. We have open ‘flu shot’ hours between 10-4 at all three offices. We have plenty of both types of vaccine for all ages at all three offices as of this posting, but follow us on Facebook for any updates on availability. Be sure to get your flu shot as soon as possible before the flu hits Memphis!