The Flu and You Part 1: Who Should Get The Shot?

By: Jessa Goddard Email
By: Jessa Goddard Email

Knoxville (WVLT) - Flu season has technically begin and now is the time to get vaccinated.

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting flu can get vaccinated.

But, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say some people should get vaccinated.

And, there are also people who shouldn't.

Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard has the details on what you need to know to help you decide whether or not to get the shot.

The flu shot is only as good as the educated guesses of a group of vaccine researchers.

Every February, they try to predict which flu viruses will circulate during the next fall and winter.

Their top three choices are put into the vaccine.

CDC officials say the vaccine will be 70 - 90% effective against just those strains of the flu.

"I would want to take the odds of getting 70% protection. It does protect against a number of strains," said Mary Ann Harrison, k with Knox County Preventative Health Services.

But, the latest science suggests flu vaccine just doesn't work very well.

So, should you or shouldn't you?

"People will try to argue different ways of why you should or shouldn't get the vaccine. Bottom line, my standing on it is if it can protect you from the virus and from the illness then just get the vaccine," Annette Skoczylas, University of Tennessee Medical Center's Medical Infection Control Specialist.

But, some people aren't just encouraged to get a flu shot, public health officials strongly recommend they get vaccinated.

Those groups include children age six months to five years, pregnant women, people over 50, people with certain medical conditions, and people living in nursing homes.

These are people considered at high risk of having some serious flu complications.

People who care for those at high risk, like health care workers, are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

But there are also people who should not be vaccinated.

They include people who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past, people who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of getting a previous flu shot, children less than six months old, and people who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever.

The viruses in the flu shot are killed, so you can't get the flu from the flu shot.

But you could have some other mild side effects, including soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fever and aches.

The FluMist nasal spray flu vaccine is also an option for healthy people 2 to 49 years of age, who are not pregnant.

But because the viruses in the nasal spray are live, weakened viruses, there are more often side effects like runny nose, headache, sore throat and cough.

Click the links below to see the other stories in this series.


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