Can a flu shot give you the flu? That, and more info on why you need a flu shot

Don't let this be you. Photo via Flickr/foshydog
Don’t let this be you! Get your flu shot. Credit: Flickr/foshydog

When it comes to the flu, memory can be deceiving. Many adults mistakenly think it is no big deal, like the common cold. But the flu sends more than 200,000 Americans each year to the hospital — and a simple vaccination can protect you from many strains of the virus.

“Until it hits your household, you don’t realize how serious the flu can be,” stresses Dr. Dyan Hes, medical director at NYC’s Gramercy Pediatrics. “It makes you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck,” Hes says. “You have a high fever, sore throat and vomiting. Kids miss a lot of school, and you may have to stay home from work.”

While the CDC recommends annual flu shots for anyone over 6 months old, Hes reminds parents to be especially vigilant about vaccinating their kids. Last year she saw a few cases of the flu among families who declined the vaccination — and later regretted it.

People have options for the vaccination. Most doctors use the standard four-strain shot for as long as supplies last, although availability may be limited to a three-strain version later in the season. There is also the  intradermal flu vaccine, which is approved for adults and uses a smaller needle to enter the skin instead of the muscle. And although a nasal spray vaccine might do the trick for the totally needle-phobic, Hes cautions that a spurt of liquid up each side of the nose might ultimately be less pleasant than getting poked.

“The shot itself doesn’t really hurt — it’s more the anxiety,” Hes explains.

Despite greatly reducing your risk of getting sick, no flu shot is a foolproof preventative. There are many strains of the illness, and they are constantly changing. Even after getting vaccinated, Hes says, people should practice good hygiene by doing things like washing their hands after getting off the subway. For anyone who does notice symptoms like fever, sore throat, chills and vomiting, Hes urges a doctor’s visit for a prescription for Tamiflu.

“You can’t cure the flu, but you can shorten its course,” she says.

Help the kiddos

Parents can help prepare wary tykes for a shot by playing doctor at home. “They can pretend to be a doctor, and give their doll or dinosaur a shot,” Dr. Hes says. The day of the vaccination, older siblings can also set an example by receiving their shots first. That way, younger kids are assured it isn’t so scary.

In NYC?

You don’t need to hit the doctor for a flu shot (though that is an option). Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies offer them on a walk-in basis or by appointment, and the stores take insurance. For every vaccination administered at one of these locations through Oc. 14, Walgreens will donate the value of a life-saving vaccine to the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. Shot@Life immunizes children worldwide against diseases like polio and measles. Visit www.walgreens.com for information.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Bronx cop saves baby who stopped breathing

A Bronx police officer is credited with saving the life of a 2-month-old baby who stopped breathing Tuesday morning. Police Officer Johnny Castillo, 38, was…

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Local

NYPD looking for lewd D train rider

The NYPD is enlisting the public’s help to find a man they say performed a lewd act on the D train Saturday evening. The incident…

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 12,…

If you've wondered whether Ali and Bethany knew each other, you got an answer tonight: Yes, and in a very tangled way. But many lingering…

Entertainment

Cymbals Eat Guitars Have Everything to 'LOSE'

At its most basic level, a rock band can be thought of as a family, a group of people selflessly devoted to a cause. When…

Entertainment

"Bachelor in Paradise" recap: Episode 4, 'Week Four'

Some things are hard to watch in a “Human Centipede” sort of way. Other things in an “American History X” sort of way. Does “Bachelor…

Movies

Fall Movie Preview: 10 films to see this…

Despite being awards season, the next four months bring a glut of remakes, rehashes and sequels. Here are 10 that should be better worth your time.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.

Travel

Most popular Labor Day weekend destinations

Priceline.com released its Top 20 destinations for the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. If you’re heading to any of these spots, expect a…

Wellbeing

Working your way to type 2 diabetes: Job…

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, a stressful job can be as risky for your health as a bad diet and no exercise. A…