Â‘Tis that time of year again, when coughing and sneezing become commonplace in homes and offices across North America. You can stave off the flu this season, though: Get the flu shot. Just about everyone should get it, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s what you need to know.
Your vaccination options
Health Canada recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone who can get it. It’s the easiest, most effective way to prevent getting sick when the flu crops up.
The good news is that the flu vaccine can be given in two ways: as a shot or as a nasal mist nose spray — so even if you don’t like needles, you can still protect yourself against the virus. The shot is approved for people 6 months and older, while the nasal spray vaccine can be administered to children over 2 and adults younger than 59.
Who should get the vaccine
Anyone who’s at risk of developing complications from the flu should seriously consider getting the flu shot. This includes:
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems
- Residents of and workers at long-term care facilities
- Doctors and nurses
Also consult your doctor about giving the shot to children over the age of 6 months.
Note: Anyone younger than 9 who has never received a flu shot before will require two doses of the vaccine to boost his immunity against the virus.
Even if you’re not at risk for complications of the flu, you should still seriously consider getting vaccinated. Of course, it will help prevent you from picking up the virus, but it also will help prevent the spread of the virus to other parties. The more people who are vaccinated against the flu, the fewer opportunities the flu will have to spread.
Who should not get the vaccine
If you fall into one of these categories, speak with your family doctor before getting a flu shot:
- Anyone with an allergy to eggs (though this may change because of new advice from a panel of researchers representing the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations)
- Anyone who is sick or has a fever at the time of vaccination (the immune system will be weaker, increasing the risk of complications)
- People who have reacted negatively to a flu shot in the past
- Infants under 6 months of age
- Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a severe paralytic illness