Flu Shots: What to Know, How to Prepare this Flu Season

Here’s some helpful information before getting your flu vaccine this year.

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It’s that time of year again. Winter is coming, and so is the flu. Luckily, flu shots are available at many locations throughout Long Island. But what do you need to know before you get your flu shot this year?
 
Flu Vaccines Last for One Season
Unlike some other vaccinations, the flu vaccine should be administered once a year at the beginning of the flu season. The vaccine for that year is usually available in October. Shots for the 2014-2015 flu season are already available.
 
There Are Multiple Flu Shot Options
There is more than just one flu shot available. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the traditional flu vaccine is known as a “trivalent” vaccine. It protects against three different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and an influenza B virus.
 
However, there is also a “quadrivalent” vaccine that protects against four different viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
 
Over Six Months Old? You Should Get Vaccinated
Since 2010, it has been recommended that everyone over six months should receive a flu shot every season, as long as they are healthy and do not have any allergic reactions to the vaccine or any of its ingredients. Even pregnant women can get a flu shot.
 
If you have an allergy to eggs, gelatin, antibiotics or any other ingredient used in the vaccine, be sure to talk to your doctor before getting one. People that were diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome should ask their doctor before getting the shot as well.
 
Vaccines are Easy to Find!
The CDC has a page that shows you the closest location where a flu shot is available. Click here to see the map. Many pharmacies offer the shot, be sure to check if your health insurance covers the flu shot before getting one.
 
Flu Vaccines Do Not Protect Against 100% of Flu Viruses
The flu virus changes and evolves every season. While doctors try to match the viruses circulating in that particular season, it is impossible for them to predict with certainty which viruses will be predominant every year.
 
Although the flu shot is a useful tool to avoid getting sick this winter, remember to lead an overall healthy lifestyle. Stay warm, maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and avoid stress. All of these factor can contribute to illness as well.
 
[Source: CDC]
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