With flu season closing in, many are getting their children and families ready by signing up for the flu vaccine. Here are answers that will help you avoid misinformation, making it easier for you to take the best course of action for you and your family.
1. Does the Shot cover the H1N1 Virus? No it does not. There is a vaccine for the swine flu in production as this is being written, but it is not available to the general public as yet. Initially, the swine flu vaccines will go to military personnel, emergency medical personnel as well as health departments, and health care officials. Most pharmacies are estimating that the earliest it would become available to the general public is November of 2009.
2. Should you take the swine flu vaccine if you have already taken the regular flu shot or mist? Yes both vaccines are recommended. You can choose to take them both on the same day at the same time. Or you need to wait several weeks if you have to take them separately.
3. Does a physician's office have to give the shot to small children? No, there are pharmacies within drug stores who will vaccinate children as young as 2 years of age. Check with local pharmacies as their guidelines and age restrictions vary greatly.
4. Is there a difference in the effectiveness between the shot and mist? Yes, health care professionals agree that both are good for the duration of one flu season. Given that the worse months for flu are December, January and February both should provide protection through those months.
However, if the flu season extends later than usual into March and April, it is thought that those who have received the Flu Mist will have greater coverage. In other words the flu shot tend to show a diminished capacity after 4 months, and the flu mist tends to last 5 to 6 months.
5. What is the difference between the shot and the mist? The shot is given by injection and contains dead viruses. The mist is given by spraying the vaccine up each nostril, and contains live but weakened viruses.
6. Who should avoid the mist? People older than 50, those who have asthma or who use an inhaler for wheezing are not good candidates for the mist.
7. How long does it take for the vaccine to become effective? It takes several weeks for the body to react by making antibodies which then help protect it from getting the flu at all or at least lessen the seriousness of the case.
8. Can you catch the flu from being vaccinated? The answer is no for the both injection and the mist. Even though the mist contains live viruses, they are not potent enough to cause a case of the flu.
9. When is the best time to be vaccinated? As soon as the vaccine is available the best time to receive it. Because it takes several weeks for the vaccine to offer protection, the sooner you receive the shot the sooner you're covered. Getting it early means you avoid having supplies run low and having to wait until more is available.
10. Where can I get the most up to date information on the flu? Your physician and local media are good resources. Also, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides up to the minute information with a website and an 800 number.