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Don’t Say No to the Flu Shot. By Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater.

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It’s that time of year again. The evenings are cool, the leaves are changing colors, the grocery stores are peddling pumpkin spice flavored ranch dressing, and your doctor/pharmacist keeps asking if they can stick you with a flu shot.

I’m sure you’ve heard all of the reasons you should say yes, so let’s change it up a little.

Here are the reasons you shouldn’t say no.

Don’t say it is too inconvenient.

Sure, scheduling a doctor’s appointment during business hours can be challenging. But pharmacies are everywhere with many open weekends and well into the evening. You do not need an appointment to get a flu shot at a pharmacy. If you are insured, the flu shot is usually free. Your pharmacist can bill, prepare, and administer a flu shot in about the same amount of time it would take to have a prescription filled.

Bring the whole family. Most states allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to children, though age cutoffs will vary by state and insurance policies.

For the state of Ohio, pharmacists can give flu shots to children as young as seven.

Don’t say it isn’t effective.

The flu shot is not a perfect vaccine, that is no secret. The effectiveness of the flu shot can vary from person to person and from year to year, but, in general, it is estimated to reduce your risk of illness by about half.

Think of it this way: getting a free flu shot at your pharmacy down the street just once a year could cut your risk in half of spending several days in bed, feeling miserable, missing work, and spending money on doctor’s visits and medications. It seems like a no brainer, right? And yet last year, less than half of adults got a flu shot.

Don’t say you don’t need one.

“But I don’t get the flu shot and I’ve never gotten the flu,” you say.

“Not yet,” I respond.

Because anyone can get the flu; young, old, sickly, healthy, in a box, with a fox. Just because you haven’t gotten it before does not mean this won’t be the unlucky year.

Also, the flu shot protects more than just you. The more people who get the shot, the more protected everyone will be. You can’t get the flu unless you come into contact with the virus, and the less people who are getting sick with it, the less people who could inadvertently get you infected.

vaccine_worldDon’t say it made you sick last time.

This statement may just be the bane of every healthcare worker alive. Inactivated flu shots absolutely cannot give you the flu. They do, however, trick your body into thinking you have the flu. In fact, that is how they work. Having a mild sickness-like reaction to a flu shot means it is working and your body is making antibodies that can recognize a live virus later on. This reaction may be more pronounced if it is your first time getting the flu shot.

Don’t say it isn’t for you.

Nearly everyone should get the flu shot. In fact, the only people who should definitively not get one, are those who have had a severe reaction to one in the past, and those cases are less than one in a million.

If you are sick, wait until you feel better… then get a flu shot.

If you recently had a vaccine… get a flu shot. Most flu shots are inactive and do not have to be separated from other vaccines; that only applies to live vaccines.

If you are allergic to eggs… you should still get a flu shot. Some flu shots are produced using chicken eggs, However, the actual presence of egg protein in the vaccine is minimal. In fact, they have done studies giving flu shots to people with egg allergies and found that reactions were unlikely. If you have a mild egg allergy, i.e. getting hives, you should still get a flu shot. If you have a more severe allergy, you should still get a shot, but get it in a doctor’s office so they can monitor you.

In summary… 

Don’t say no to the flu shot.

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