by Dane Fukumoto ***
The last time I remember getting the flu was about 10 years ago. I had a busy work day ahead, and I remember grimacing through a mild, unwell feeling while rising from bed. That changed drastically by lunch, as all the classic symptoms ensued, making me terribly hot, dizzy and craving my bed. I somehow managed to make it home safely and after a week of torment, I started to feel better.
Fortunately, getting immunized every year can help prevent these nasty symptoms of the flu, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends it as your best defense. I swear by it every year after my ordeal. Virginia Mason agrees with the CDC and is committed to getting you and your family immunized – walk-in clinics are open today and run through November.
Dr. Chris Baliga, an infectious disease provider at Virginia Mason, answers some common questions about getting immunized that you might be curious about when visiting your Virginia Mason Clinic:
I’m pregnant. Can I get the flu shot?
Dr. Baliga: Yes, the flu shot is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for those who are pregnant. You should get the inactivated vaccine, not the intranasal vaccine.
I’m trying to get pregnant. Can I get the flu shot?
Dr. Baliga: Yes.
I have a cold right now. Should I wait to get vaccinated?
Dr. Baliga: People who are moderately or severely ill should wait until they recover before getting the flu vaccine. If you are very ill you should not be at work. People with a mild illness can usually get the vaccine.
I have a family member who is immune compromised. Is it safe for me to get the flu shot? Do I pose any potential risks to this family member?
Dr. Baliga: Yes, it is safe to get the flu shot. If you are in close contact with someone in protective isolation (such as in an acute bone marrow transplant unit), you should get the inactivated vaccine. Otherwise, it is safe to get the intranasal vaccine or the injectable vaccine if you are around those with a weakened immune system (such as those with HIV).
I seem to come down with an illness right after being vaccinated every year. Is it possible I caught the flu from the vaccine?
Dr. Baliga: No. You cannot catch the flu as a result of being vaccinated with either the shot or the intranasal flu vaccine. Some people experience minor side effects from the vaccine, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, nasal congestion or cough, but these typically subside after a few days and are not related to contracting influenza. Please refer to the vaccine information sheets to see potential side effects of the vaccines.
I am going on a trip outside the country very soon. Can I receive the vaccine or should I wait until I return?
If you want to have a good trip and be protected against the flu, we recommend you do get vaccinated before your trip.
Visit VirginiaMason.org/flu to watch a video and for a complete schedule of Virginia Mason’s influenza vaccination clinics.
Dane Fukumoto is the patient communications manager at Virginia Mason Medical Center.