To flu shot or not to flu shot.

That is the question. As always, there are several sides to the decision.  The current recommendation is for all individuals over the age of 6 months to receive a flu shot annually. Children receiving a flu shot for the first time are recommended to receive a booster dose one month after their first dose to ensure better protection. Many people swear they NEVER get the flu.  Certainly, there may be a minority of people who are naturally resistant to the disease or maybe simply have less exposure. But most of us, children and adults, will experience some degree of flu illness during the winter.  Many of us use the term “flu” so liberally during the year that it often seems we forget what true Influenza really is and how serious a disease it can be. Symptoms of the flu include: sudden onset of body aches, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and the development of a dry scratchy cough. These symptoms will often last 7 – 14 days.  People with the flu are at risk for bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections.  What about those folks who insist the flu shot makes them sick? I recently heard a great explanation of this reaction from an infectious disease specialist. The flu vaccine stimulates our immune system. When this happens, some of us can experience flu-like symptoms: fever, body aches, chills. But this reaction typically lasts one to two days at most and is nothing compared to the true disease. People who should definitely consider a flu shot: very young children, the elderly, those with chronic respiratory or cardiovascular illness, anyone who is immune suppressed.  We are currently in the ideal time to receive a flu shot. Generally, the shot takes about 4 weeks to “rev up” the immune system and protection lasts for about 6 months. Typical flu season in New Mexico begins right after the holidays and lately has been lasting well into the spring. To discuss whether the flu vaccine is right for you and for any other health care concerns, call Eldorado Family Health at 505-216-7772.

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