RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In the past, most parents have had a choice about which type of flu vaccine to give children — shot or spray.
This year, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending a flu shot for the 2016-2017 flu season. Data from the last several years suggested that the spray did not provide adequate protection.
- What is the flu and when does flu season begin?
Flu season runs from October through March most years. However, you can still get the flu outside of these months. Flu causes an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths—complications such as pneumonia can be particularly severe in certain people.
- When should we get the flu shot? Who should get a flu shot? Why do we need a shot vs. the flu mist nasal spray?
The CDC recommends that all people 6 months of age and older get a flu shot. The young and the old as well as those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease are at particular risk. The vaccine stimulates our immune system to provide protection against the flu virus—the CDC predicts which strains are most likely to appear this year based on study of disease patterns, etc. Most years the flu vaccine is a very good match for the flu virus that appears.
According to CDC estimates, FluMist reduced incidence of the flu by just 3 percent compared with unvaccinated people in the 2015-16 flu season—meaning it offered virtually no protection. Injected vaccines reduced the risk by 63 percent. FluMist’s effectiveness began declining in the 2013-14 flu season.
- What are the risks/side effects of the flu shot?
The benefits of a flu shot far outweigh the risks. There is a small risk of an allergic reaction—particularly if you have an egg allergy. You should discuss this with your doctor prior to getting the vaccine. In addition, you should not take the flu vaccine while you are ill. It is not uncommon to experience soreness or redness at the injection site. This will abate within a day or two. Taking Tylenol can help.
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