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Why Is It Important To Get The Flu Shot? Who Needs It Most?

Woman receiving a flu shot at her primary care doctor's office to avoid illness this cold/flu season.

As temperatures begin to drop and people start spending more time in close quarters with one another, it is easy for germs that cause illnesses like the flu to spread.

We can’t predict how severe a flu season can be. The flu virus is pretty unpredictable, changes rapidly and is different every year. With all these variables, your best defense year to year is to get a flu shot.

Brynn McKeon, PA-C of our Primary Care team answers some frequently asked questions about the flu as we prepare for flu season!

What exactly is the flu shot?

A. The flu shot is a vaccination that is created each year to defend against particular flu strains identified as threats by researchers. The vaccination is administered by injection into your arm, and there are a couple of different types of flu shots available that vary in strength depending on a patient’s age and risk factors.

The most common flu shot is appropriate for anyone, from children as young as six months old to adults. A second type is recommended for patients 65 years old and up, which is a stronger dose to elicit a greater immune response in patients more susceptible to the flu virus.

Is the flu shot safe? Will it make you sick?

A. Yes, the flu shot is safe. No, it will not make you sick or give you the flu.

Like any medication, however, there is the possibility that some people may experience side effects. Swelling at the injection site is one, while the most common side effects are mild flu-like symptoms: muscle aches and soreness, a low-grade fever. The likelihood of having any severe symptoms from a flu shot are slim, and it is worth repeating – the flu shot will not give you the flu.

Anyone who gets the flu after receiving a flu shot has most likely been exposed to the flu prior to getting the vaccination – an unfortunate coincidence, but usually not caused by the vaccination itself.

Why is it important to get the flu shot? Who needs it most?

A. It is preferable that everyone receives a flu shot. Not only does it protect you from getting the flu, but complications from the flu also, like pneumonia and hospitalization.

Being vaccinated yourself also means you avoid being a carrier and spreading the illness to those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants or individuals who are allergic to the flu shot. In short, when you take this measure to stay healthy yourself, you are also contributing to overall community health.

Flu shots are very important for people with respiratory diseases and chronic medical conditions, such as :

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease

Other at-risk groups recommended for flu shots include:

  • People 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Children

There has been a late start to flu season this year, but we can say with confidence that you can count on flu season ramping up as November approaches and continuing until May. Ask your primary care doctor or pharmacist about this year’s flu shot.

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, the physicians of Garnet Health Doctors are here to help. We have five locations throughout Sullivan County: Monticello, Harris, Bethel, Callicoon and Livingston Manor. There are daytime and evening hours available at each location, with same-day appointments.

About Brynn McKeon, PA-C

Brynn McKeon, PA-CMs. McKeon is a Sullivan County native who studied at Elmira College and graduated Magna Cum Laude with Bachelors of Arts in Biology and Psychology in 2014. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Marywood University in 2016. She was licensed by the New York State Education Department to practice as a Physician Assistant in 2016 and obtained certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

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All content presented are provided for informational and educational purposes only, and are not intended to approximate or replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read within the website content. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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