I’m considered high risk for flu-related complications, so I make sure that I get a flu shot every year. If you have asthma, like me, you should be getting one, too. That also goes for anybody with diabetes (of any type), cystic fibrosis, COPD, heart disease, kidney disease, blood disorders, neurological disorders, a compromised immune system (such as from HIV/AIDS, those on long-term immunosuppressant drugs like prednisone, and those who are very obese, too .
Okay, so you’re not on that list? You should also get a flu shot if you are: of Native American (or Canadian Aboriginal) descent; a woman who is pregnant during flu season; working in healthcare; living in a long-term care facility; over age 50 or between 6 months and 4 years of age; in regular contact with someone who cannot be vaccinated—such as young children or individuals with egg allergies (some may be able to get the standard flu shot depending on the severity of their allergy—learn more here), or is at high risk for flu-related complications .
Still not on the list? You should STILL probably get a flu shot. Unless you really, really want the flu. Come on, a few days off work, in bed… is not that great if you’ve got a high fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy and/or runny nose (c’mon, it’s rarely one or the other, right?), headaches, chills, gastrointestinal issues (not always present, and more common in kids—think nausea, vomiting and diarrhea), and body aches to go along with it . Those are common flu symptoms, and really, aren’t all that fun. While severe or life-threatening complications or symptoms are more common in those I listed earlier that have chronic medical conditions, they can happen to anybody. Immediate medical treatment should be received if you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, show signs of low oxygen (blue or purple lips or fingertips), chest pain or pressure, confusion, dizziness, severe or persistent vomiting (can lead to dehydration which can require IV fluids), seizures, or improved symptoms that then relapse into a worse flu .
So, endure the “little poke”, as my doctor calls it, and maybe even get some free cookies at a community clinic (…this only happened to me once, and I may have complained to my doctor about her lack of cookies last year! ;)), and stay healthy this flu season!
As always, avoid getting sick by washing your hands regularly, insisting your doctor wash his or her hands in front of you before they take care of you, and avoiding sick people as much as possible—if you do get sick, please stay home! And, if you’re at risk for flu related complications, be sure to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace that alerts people to your medical needs—just in case!