We can’t deny that viral season is upon us. My office and emergency room is filled with children and parents with runny noses, coughs, fevers, and fatigue. Many worry it’s the dreaded enterovirus-68, with fear over respiratory illness requiring hospitalization. Though I am sure that many of my patients do in fact have this infection, thankfully very few are becoming ill enough to require hospital-based care.
This high viral season reminds us that we should consider getting flu vaccines. Influenza has maintained a low profile so far this Fall, though no doubt it will rear its head in the coming month or two, as it does each year. Have you forgotten H1N1 from last year?
In North America, we now have two excellent flu vaccine options—the classic flu shot and the lesser-known flu nasal spray. Both offer similar levels of protection, but some people are better suited for one or the other option.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommend that everyone 6 months and older get immunized against the flu, unless there is a medical reason not to. Why risk getting sick if you don’t have to?
Those most encouraged to get the vaccine include:
The vaccine is given by injection into the upper arm. It is made from dead influenza virus and cannot infect you with the flu.
Most side effects are mild and short lasting. Soreness of the arm is most typical. Mild fever and achiness is also possible.
Who can get the flu shot?
Who shouldn’t get the flu shot?
Egg allergy is no longer a contraindication to flu vaccine. The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology say the vaccine has such a low amount of egg protein that it's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. If you have a severe egg allergy, please discuss with your doctor.
This vaccine is sprayed into the nose. The vaccine is ‘live,’ though weakened, and cannot cause the flu. Flu-like symptoms may occur, however.
Who can get the nasal flu vaccine?
Who cannot get the nasal vaccine?
Talk to your doctor or health care practitioner about which option is best for you! For more on colds and viruses going around, check this out.
Is It A Cold Or The Flu?
Entero-What? What You Need To Know About The Enterovirus 68.