Q: I haven't had a flu shot for years, ever since I learned I was allergic to eggs. What can I do to protect myself?
A: Thanks to warm weather, the influenza season is off to a slow start in our area. But with cold temperatures approaching and more opportunities to be confined indoors, flu activity is sure to pick up.
The good news for you and others with egg allergies is that today's vaccine has less egg protein than in the past. People who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg can get any licensed flu vaccine appropriate for their health and age. People who had a more severe reaction or needed emergency treatment after exposure to egg protein should get the shot in a medical setting (doctor's office, hospital, clinic or health department).
Here are four more things you should know about the vaccine:
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated by injection. Nasal spray is not recommended because of concerns over its effectiveness.
- You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The flu vaccine does not contain the live virus, so people cannot get the flu from it. Some people feel like they have a mild case of the flu after receiving the shot, but this usually only lasts one to two days.
- Only half of Americans get the flu vaccine. You're not just protecting yourself and your family, but the community as whole. The flu is no joke. Everyone needs to be vaccinated.
The flu vaccine is available at your doctor's office, as well as drug stores, supermarkets and clinics.
Dr. Richard Levine is medical director of Primary Care at Lourdes Medical Associates.