8 things everyone should know about the flu vaccine

Sarah Carty
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Our winter coats are out, the temperature has dropped and people all over are sniffling their way through their morning commute, which can only mean one thing – it’s flu vaccine season.

According to Dr Preeya Alexander, who is also known as The Wholesome Doctor, now is prime time for getting the flu jab.

But if you’re still undecided about whether or not you should get it this year, Dr Alexander has revealed everything you need to know before you visit your doctor and debunks all the flu vaccination myths.   

Here’s everything you need to know about the flu jab. Photo: Getty Images

Can the vaccine give me the flu?

“The vaccine cannot give you the flu as many people claim,” Dr Aleander said.

“You may experience some muscle aches or fever in the days after the vaccine (most likely you will just have a sore arm) but getting a full-blown flu illness from the vaccine is not possible.

“If you do develop something like this you have likely caught it from someone else and the vaccine cannot be blamed.”

Do I need the flu vaccine every year?

The simple answer is yes, you need to get a flu vaccination each and every year.

Dr Alexander said the reason why it doesn’t last forever is because the vaccine is changed every year depending on what strains of the flu they believe will be problematic that year.

“Each year the vaccine contains 4 strains of the flu virus; this year 2 influenza A and 2 influenza B strains are covered,” she said.

Should I get the flu shot if I have an egg allergy?

“The current recommendation is that even those with anaphylaxis to egg are safe to receive the flu vaccine – like everyone else,” Dr Alexander said.

However, she does recommend those with egg allergies stay in the medical centre for 15 minutes after they receive the vaccine, in case they have a reaction and need help.

Nobody has time for sitting on the couch with a box of tissues this winter. Photo: Getty Images

Who needs to get the flu jab?

According to Dr Alexander everyone should have the vaccine.

“Most of my young well patients think they don’t need the vaccine, but the more people we vaccinate the less likely the flu is to wreak havoc in the community,” she said.

Dr Alexander also claimed that most state governments are funding the flu jab for kids between the ages of 6 months and five years this year and giving out a unique jab to people over the age of 65..

“The only people who should not be readily receiving the flu vaccine are those with a previous allergic reaction to the vaccine,” she said. 

“Even for those who have an impaired immune system (from chemotherapy or HIV for instance), it is still safe to vaccinate in most instances.”

For those of us who need to pay for the vaccination, she estimates it costs between $15 and $20.

Is it safe to vaccinate kids from the flu?

“All kids aged over six months are safe to receive the flu vaccine (as long as they do not have an allergy to the vaccine),” Dr Alexander said.

If your child is getting the flu vaccine for the first time and they are under nine-years-old, Dr Alexander claims they will need to get two doses of the vaccine, at least four weeks apart.

Every year after that, they’ll only need to get the vaccination once.

Can I get the flu jab if I’m pregnant?

Dr Alexander claims everyone who is pregnant during this flu season should get the flu shot.

“The government funds this and it is safe to have at any stage of pregnancy,” she said.

“Pregnant women are more likely to suffer complications of the flu due to changes in their immune system.”

When should I get the flu shot?

You don’t want to get it too early but Dr Alexander says anytime from now onwards is perfect.

The effectiveness of the vaccine starts to wane after three to four months, so if we vaccinate too early then you are not protected in peak flu season which is usually August,” she said.

Will it 100 per cent stop me from getting the flu?

Unfortunately, the flu jab is not 100 per cent effective but Dr Alexander claims it can reduce the chance of you getting sick by 30 to 60 per cent.

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