10.13.22 – How Do You Protect Yourself From the Flu?

Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Health Officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. Last week we talked about the flu, what it is and how it spreads. This week let’s talk more about protecting yourself with the flu shot.

How do you protect yourself from the flu?

The most effective way to protect yourself is by getting a flu shot. It’s a safe vaccine that’s been around for a long time. The flu virus is constantly changing, so vaccines are updated yearly. It’s also important to practice good hygiene, cover those coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Can I get the flu from the flu shot?

No. Most flu vaccines contain an inactivated virus which means that the vaccine either has pieces of the virus or a virus that has been killed. The nasal spray vaccine does contain a weakened form of the virus which won’t cause illness but does reproduce. This nasal spray is only available for people 2 to 49 years old who don’t have any immune system problems.

Which flu shot should I get?

Generally, it doesn’t matter which flu vaccine you get. What matters more is that you get the flu shot. The one major exception is for people 65 and older, who should get a high dose flu shot to stimulate a better immune response. If high dose flu shots aren’t available and you’re 65 or older, you should get a standard flu shot.

Will the flu shot protect me against COVID?

No it won’t. That’s why you should get the new Covid Omicron booster. It’s recommended for everyone 12 and older who’s already had at least one shot of the regular Covid vaccine.

Does the flu shot have side effects?

Soreness at the injection site is the most common side effect. Some people experience body aches or fatigue that usually goes away within a day.

How can I get vaccinated?

The Health Department has flu vaccine clinics the next three weekends throughout the county in Glen Burnie, Annapolis, and South county. Of course, you can also get vaccinated at your doctor’s office, pharmacies, and even at some workplaces. You can find the details for our clinics at aahealth.org.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.

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