The Truth about Flu Shots

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Concerned about the flu shot? Our own Nurse Practitioner Adrienne Garbarino offers answers to common flu shot questions.  

Ahhhhhh, there’s a crisp in the air, pumpkins everywhere, an apple crisp macchiato at Starbucks … and flu vaccines! Who doesn’t love fall? As we enjoy fall and head into the winter months, one very important act of wellness for me and my family is getting the flu shot. I have gotten my flu shot every year since I started nursing school 15 years ago, and now I take my husband and son with me each fall. We get it as soon as it’s available because I know it will protect us through the entire flu season, which typically runs October through March, and even as late as May some years. I know there are many hesitancies surrounding the flu shot and, believe me, as a Nurse Practitioner who has administered hundreds and hundreds of vaccines, I have heard them all! Here are my responses to a few of the common concerns I hear.

  • But won’t it make me sick?

  • No. You might briefly feel tired or have a low-grade fever for a day. If that does occur, it happens within 24 hours and only lasts that long. That isn’t the flu vaccine making you sick, it’s just your immune system kicking in and gearing up to fight a future exposure to the actual flu. If you catch the common cold 2 or 3 weeks after you get the shot, they are absolutely not related; don’t blame it on the poor flu shot. For me personally, I never have any side effects.

  • I don’t need it. I never get the flu.

  • That’s like saying you don’t need a seatbelt because you’ve never been in a car accident. I’m glad you’ve been lucky so far. I personally don’t want to play those odds. Just like wearing a seatbelt reduces your risk of severe injury or death, getting the flu shot reduces the risk of severe complications in the event you get the flu.

  • I have a strong immune system and won’t get that sick. 

  • Many people I talk to don’t realize that the flu actually kills people. A “mild” case of the flu usually looks like laying in bed for 7-10 days with terrible body aches and high fevers. People usually say that they feel like they’ve been hit by a truck. Every inch of your body hurts. People don’t have the energy to leave the house, work from home, do chores, anything. It is very different from a winter cold. This is why we even have a vaccine for the flu in the first place. Even if you don’t get “that sick” you can spread the flu to other people who are more vulnerable before you even realize you have it.

  • But my child hates shots and cries. 

  • Now that I’m a mom I can say this- suck it up buttercup! A few kicks and screams are totally worth not having a child sick with the flu for 1-2 weeks. Additionally, the nasal spray flu vaccine is an option. You are doing the best thing for your child.

  • Is it safe to get the flu vaccine with the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Absolutely. The flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered on the
    same day or if you are already vaccinated against COVID-19.

I know we can’t protect ourselves and our family from every danger out here, but getting myself and my family vaccinated against the flu each year is an easy, safe, and effective way that I CAN protect us from this dangerous virus. So go get your flu vaccine, bring your family or a friend along, and reward yourself with that apple crisp macchiato (or pumpkin spice latte if that’s how you roll)!

Adrienne Garbarino, MSN, FNP-BC, APRN

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