Get a Flu Shot
Hands down, vaccination is your best defense against influenza. A new, targeted vaccine is made each year to protect against the strains that experts predict will be the most common in the coming flu season. “Everyone should get a flu shot,” says Bill Hanage, an epidemiology professor at Harvard School of Public Health. “The only exception would be if you have a serious medical issue and your doctor warns against it.”
You should also consult your doctor if you’re allergic to eggs, Hanage says. The standard flu vaccine contains a tiny trace of egg protein, which isn’t enough to trigger a reaction in most people with egg allergies, but it can cause harm for those with severe allergies. “But even in those cases, there is now a vaccine that does not contain eggs,” Hanage says. You just have to ask for it.
If you are otherwise healthy, Hanage says you can skip the doc and go straight to Walgreens, Rite Aid, or another pharmacy or clinic that administers vaccines. To find a flu shot near you, go to flu.gov and type in your zip code. And do it now. “It’s a great idea get vaccinated well before we find out whether this is a bad flu season,” Hanage says. “If you wait, you’ll likely be standing in a long line [at the pharmacy or clinic]. And since there’s a limited number of vaccines available, there may not be any left.”
If you’re squeamish about needles, there is now a nasal mist that’s just as effective as the shot for guys 50 and younger. “We don’t recommend the nasal mist for people over 50 because as we get older, we need more antigens to produce more antibodies, and the nasal mist doesn’t have enough,” says Kellee Dixon, a registered nurse and infection preventionist at the Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “But for everyone else over age 8, it’s highly effective.”
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