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Top 11 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine Now

Reason #11: You'll Miss Work, and Maybe a Paycheck

No doubt, if you have your choice between getting the flu and going to work, you should prefer work. In 2012-2013, the flu season resulted in 230 million lost work days at a cost of $30.4 billion to employers, according to the Walgreens Flu Impact Survey. Employees who missed time at work due to flu lost more than $8.5 billion in wages. Although the CDC says people should get a flu shot when its available, typically in August, nearly 31 percent waited until November or later. Without a vaccine, you are at greater risk of getting the flu at work. If you do get the flu, stay home and rest - don't go to work and infect your coworkers who may not have had the flu vaccine themselves.

Reason #10: Your Fear of Needles is No Longer a Valid Excuse

Do you shudder at the thought of the shot? Now there is a nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist Quadrivalent. But FluMist, a live-attentuated vaccine, can't be used by everyone. The nasal spray is approved for healthy people 2 through 49 years of age. Children younger than 2, adults over 50, anyone with asthma, pregnant women, and some other groups can't use FluMist. Side effects may include a runny nose or headache in adults; children may also have a fever, wheezing, vomiting and muscle aches. Another option, Fluzone Intradermal, for ages 18 to 64, has a very short needle for skin injection instead of into the muscle, which theoretically should hurt less.

Reason #9: Kids Just Can't Stay Home Alone

In 2013 it was reported that 90 million missed school days were tallied up due to flu, compared to 32 million missed school days in 2010-11, according to the Walgreens Flu Impact Report. Sadly, in the 2012-2013 flu season, 164 children died from complications due to flu. Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to flu complications. Children with chronic health problems like asthma or diabetes are at a high risk of developing complications. In 2014-2015, the CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine for healthy children 2 to 8 years, if available and if the child has no contraindications.

Reason #8: Quadrivalent Vaccines Can Protect You Even More

This past flu season there was a big change to both the injectable and the nasal flu vaccine: an added B strain for protection. A quadrivalent version of the flu vaccine is now available that protects against four strains of influenza virus - two A strains and two B strains - previously they only protected against three strains. By adding another B virus to the vaccine, quadrivalent vaccines give broader protection during the flu season. Fluarix and FluLaval Quadrivalent vaccines can be used in ages 3 and over; Fluzone Quadrivalent can be given if 6 months or older. FluMist Quadrivalent nasal vaccine can only be given to healthy, nonpregnant persons 2 to 49 years old without specific contraindications.

Reason #7: The Flu Vaccine is Affordable and Convenient

The flu vaccine has never been easier to get. You don't have to wait in long lines or make a future appointment - the flu vaccine can be found immediately at most pharmacies and major retailers such as Target, CVS or Walgreens. Across the country, many pharmacists are now licensed to immunize, meaning they can give you the vaccine at times that are more in line with your work or school schedule. In addition, most pharmacies or clinics will accept insurance for the vaccine which results in little or no copay to you. If you have no insurance, check to see if your local health clinic is offering free vaccines. Even if you have to pay, the average $30 cash fee is well worth the price.

Reason #6: Seniors Can Get Even More Protection

Fluzone High Dose vaccine is specifically made for adults 65 years of age and older. Fluzone contains four times the amount of antigen of the regular flu vaccine. This higher dose for seniors can provide a stronger immune response. Boosting the immune system is especially important for older patients who are at a greater risk of flu complications. Fluzone High Dose is a trivalent vaccine, meaning it only protects against the three strains of influenza virus, not four like the quadrivalent. Side effects from Fluzone High Dose are usually mild and may include soreness, swelling, fever, headache, fatigue, and muscular pain.

Reason #5: You Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year

You can't predict the severity of the flu season, and flu vaccine effectiveness does not last from year to year. Each year, experts predict which flu strains are most likely to be circulating, so the strains that make up the flu vaccine may change. In addition, studies have shown that the body's ability to fight off the flu after a vaccination wanes over time, so that's another reason why you need a vaccine each year as soon it's available.

The CDC recommends that you get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year, preferably by October. It takes 14 days for immunity to build to fight the virus.

Reason #4: One Shot Can Protect You and Your Newborn

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends an annual flu vaccine for anyone 6 months of age or older, including pregnant women, if there are no contraindications. Pregnant women cannot use the FluMist live nasal flu vaccine and must receive the inactivated influenza vaccine.

However, there's an added value to the seasonal flu vaccine for pregnant women - not only does it protect them against the flu, it also protects their newborn infants for up to the first six months of life - at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.

Reason #3: Early Fall is the Perfect Time

Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year. Flu season can start early, as it did in 2012, so it's best not to wait. It takes about two weeks after your vaccination for the full antibody effect to develop and provide flu protection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated in August, September or early October, before the flu season really kicks in.

But it's never too late to get the flu vaccine if you miss out. Seasonal influenza disease usually peaks in January or February most years, but can occur as late as May or as early as December (as it did in 2013). And be sure to get re-vaccinated each year!

Reason #2: Those with Egg Allergy Have an Option

If you are allergic to eggs you can still get a flu vaccine. Some flu vaccines, including injections and nasal FluMist, are made with egg proteins. However, there is now an option for patients with a history of hives related to egg exposure - FluBlok. Flublok does not have egg proteins. Flublok is a trivalent vaccine that protects patients against 2 strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B.

In general, patients with egg allergies can still get other inactivated flu vaccines with their doctors okay, but they should be observed in the clinic for at least 30 minutes following administration for signs of any allergic reaction so treatment can be given.

And the #1 Reason: Flu is a Monster

If you've ever had the flu, you know it's not your average virus. The illness can land you flat on your back and its effects can span over 2 weeks. For kids under 2, seniors, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease or diabetes, the flu can be especially severe, or even fatal. Pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of health conditions are possible, too. And, no, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu (just in case you are trying to use this excuse in a last ditch effort). The vaccine is made up of inactivated (killed) or weakened viruses that have no ability to infect the lungs. So, go on - you're out of excuses - fight off the monster today and go get your vaccine.

Finished: Top 11 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine Now

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