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Flu shot: Do I really need one?

October 01, 2019

Flu season is just around the corner and everyone, even doctors, wonder, “What will this year be like?”

But, there is no way to predict. Anyone can get the flu, no matter how healthy they are. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all people (with some exceptions) ages 6 months and older get a flu shot to protect themselves and others from the flu.

COMMON QUESTIONS

Dr. Brian Sutton, medical director of Baystate Health Urgent Care, answers common questions about the flu vaccine:

  • Who should not get a vaccine?
  • When is the best time to get a flu shot?
  • Is the flu deadly?
  • Are people with asthma, heart disease or diabetes at higher risk for complications?
  • Is the flu vaccine safe for pregnant women?
  • Are there vaccination alternatives to a flu shot?

 

WHO SHOULD NOT GET A FLU VACCINE?

People who should not get the flu vaccine include children younger than 6 months and those with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine and any of its ingredients. Ask your doctor if you’re not sure if you should be vaccinated.

HIGH-DOSE VACCINE FOR SENIORS

There is a high-dose vaccine available for seniors over age 65, which may provide better protection against the flu than the regular vaccine. However, if it is not available from your provider, doctors recommend getting the regular vaccine.

WHO’S AT HIGHEST RISK FOR COMPLICATION?

In addition to the elderly, flu vaccination is particularly important for younger children who are also at high risk for serious flu complications, as well as those with heart disease, and pregnant women. The most important complication that can affect both high-risk adults and children is pneumonia. The flu can also aggravate and worsen chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma. 

WHERE TO GET A FLU SHOT