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  • A pain in the arm can prevent the hassle and risk of the flu!
    Added by My Identity Doctor
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    It’s Influenza Vaccine Week! While many of us—myself included—have our flu shots administered in October or November (or in some places, even earlier!), it’s not too late, as is proven by the fact that Flu Vaccine Week is December 1 to 7!
    While i’m lucky enough that my flu shot the last two years has come to me (in the form of my sport medicine doctor who is also the father of one of the athletes I coach!), I’ve found it’s even hard to enter a shopping mall or grocery store without being greeted by a sign that your friendly neighbourhood pharmacist and their staff are stocked and ready to provide your flu vaccine! Flu shots are even more important if you live with a chronic disease—I have asthma, so I try to get my flu shot as early as I can into the season—other conditions that make you at high-risk if you develop the flu include other respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis, diabetes (any type!), heart disease, stroke, seizure disorders, people with muscular disorders or spinal cord injuries, blood, kidney or metabolic disorders, or those with weakened immune systems [1]. People who are pregnant, adults over 65 years of age, children under 5 (and even more so those younger than 2), residents of long-term care facilities, people who work in long term care facilities or hospitals, as well as daycares or pre-schools (and, I would also add schools!), and those of Native American or Alaskan American heritage are also at increased risk from contracting the flu and developing severe illness and/or passing the flu on to people who are at high risk for severe flu-related illness. [1]
    Even if you’re not as fortunate as I am to have your flu shot come to you, it’s easy enough to find a flu shot in your community—costs can vary depending on your insurance, but there are often programs to help you obtain a free or low-cost flu shot regardless of coverage. Your pharmacist or physician may also have other resources available to you to ensure you are protected against the flu.
    While some people report feeling sick after a flu shot, this is not the same as getting the flu. The Centres for Disease Control reports that in a blinded study where people were given placebo (a fake “flu shot”) versus the actual flu shot, there was no difference in the symptoms of low-grade fever, chills, body aches, runny nose or sore throat. [2] The CDC did not say that it was all in their heads, but… it could be that believing you will not feel well after a flu shot simply makes it so. (I personally believe it is a “strange coincidence” that people avoid flu shots for feeling unwell—I’ve never felt unwell after a flu shot, so I wonder if this is 99% that I do not anticipate that I will feel unwell.) In fact, the only difference between the flu shot group and the placebo (saline or salt water) group regarding after-shot symptoms was that recipients of the actual vaccination had increased soreness and redness at the injection site than those who got saline! [2]
    If you are allergic to any of the ingredients of the flu vaccine, this may be a legitimate reason to avoid it, but only after speaking with your doctor. Otherwise, the flu vaccine is proven safe and effective. A day or two of soreness is a pretty small price to pay to avoid a week of the flu, and potentially severe complications including hospitalization. And, it’s been demonstrated that getting active after your flu shot can decrease arm-soreness. This year, I got my flu shot immediately before coaching, where I participated in a wicked game of capture-the-chicken and basketball. The next day, I spent a couple of hours playing wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis which is more arm use than I get in like a month combined, and resumed my plank challenge, no problem—I actually think the soreness was less than in previous years.
    So if you have chronic disease, or are around at-risk populations, make sure you get your flu shot! Because the flu may cause more severe complications for these groups listed above, it can be a good idea to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace—you just might want to wash it a bit more frequently during flu season! 😉
    Published by My Identity Doctor on December 2, 2016


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