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
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…