Do you need the flu vaccine? Learn about the pros and cons of the flu vaccination.
Do You Need the Flu Vaccine?
Conventional preventive treatment lies in vaccinating against
influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend
vaccination for people at a high risk for complications. Each year, researchers include in the vaccine
the strains of influenza that are most likely to strike. Although
about 25 percent of people report soreness at the injection site,
severe reactions to these vaccines are rare. A vaccine that is
given as an intranasal spray is nearing approval in the United
States. Several studies involving children and adults show that
it’s safe and effective. The main side effect is mild cold-like
symptoms in 10 to 15 percent of recipients.
Because a full immune response to the vaccine takes two to four
weeks to develop, the ideal time to get a flu vaccine is
mid-October to mid-November. In the Northern Hemisphere, flu season
usually lasts from December to March.
Should You Get a Flu Shot?
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
recommend influenza vaccination for the following groups:
• People age fifty and older
• Residents of long-term care facilities
• Women who will be in their second or third trimester of
pregnancy during the flu season
• Those with serious chronic conditions, particularly conditions
involving the heart and lungs
• People with suppressed immune systems
• People who can transmit influenza to others at high risk (such
as health-care personnel)
Linda B. White, M.D. is coauthor of Kids, Herbs, & Health
(Interweave, 1998) and The Herbal Drugstore (Rodale, 2000).
Read more about herbal remedies for the flu: Natural Remedies for the Flu.