Get Vaccinated Against the Flu
Unless you are allergic, there is really no good reason NOT to get the flu vaccine. It is cheap, and in some instances free, and is your first line of defense against getting the flu, which can be absolutely deadly for the very young, the old and anyone with a compromised immune system. And even if you don’t think it is “deadly” for you, it can cost you in terms of taking time off work, passing it along to your family, which may mean even more time off of work, and passing it along to others through your children at school, your coworkers and anyone you come in contact with, whether it be in person or just by handling the change you received at the grocery store. The truth is that the flu is highly contagious, it can become epidemic, and it is nothing short of irresponsible to not get vaccinated, unless you have a viable medical reason for not doing so. A fear of needles is not a viable medical reason, in case you were wondering.
You can either get a flu shot or a nasal-spray flu vaccine, which is best determined by the medical professional administering the vaccine. Those with a higher risk of severe complications from the flu, such as people with chronic medical conditions and those age 50 and older, will usually receive the shot. The shot is an inactivated vaccine, which means it contains the “killed” flu virus. The nasal spray is made with live, attenuated, or weakened flu viruses that don’t cause the flu but when administered will provide resistance to the flu. Healthy people, meaning those with no underlying chronic health condition, between the ages of 2 and 49, are usually given the flu mist, if available.
The flu vaccine is also only good for one year and the type of flu viruses used to make it are determined by international reporting on the types of flu that are being seen most often and scientists’ estimations on what strains will most likely circulate during a given year. Flu viruses mutate easily, which mean they can change year to year; another reason that getting vaccinated is so important. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus as well as two others, H3N2 and influenza B.
Most facilities will start receiving the flu vaccine sometime in September and you should get vaccinated as soon as it is available in your area. Outbreaks will normally begin in October, but can be seen earlier, usually peaking around January, and sometimes even later, so even getting vaccinated in December will do some good.
Nowadays you can even get vaccinated at your local Wal-Mart. All of the major drug stores will offer the flu vaccine. Most of them will accept some or all health insurance and if you are uninsured, the vaccine will usually cost you under $30. You also have the option of going to your regular doctor’s office or to the county health department. Most health departments won’t charge for the vaccine or will do so on a sliding scale according to income.
To find where in your area you can get the flu vaccine now, search flu vaccine widget or go to You just enter your zip code to find the clinics, supermarkets, super centers, doctor’s offices, drug stores and health departments nearest to you. Do the right thing. Protect yourself and everyone around you.