[Susan Hanna]

agh_logoFlu season is upon us, so it’s time to protect yourself and others by getting a flu shot. Ottawa Valley Family Health Team family physician Dr. Susie Quackenbush answers some frequently asked questions about the flu shot.

 Who should get a flu shot? – “Everyone over six months of age should get the flu shot,” says Dr. Quackenbush. “The only exceptions are people with a true egg allergy, those allergic to other ingredients in the vaccine, and anyone who has had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare neurological condition. If you are ill with a fever over 38.5 degrees, postpone getting the shot. If you have a mild cold, it’s fine to get your flu shot.”

I never get the flu; why should I get a flu shot? – “Everyone can get the flu, and if you do, you will be very sick,” explains Dr. Quackenbush. “It is a bad illness, and complications from it can lead to hospitalization or death. Even if you don’t suffer complications, you will be contagious and could infect people at high-risk for complications, such as children under age five, people over age 65, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions.”

Dr. Quackenbush, who always gets a flu shot, said she caught the flu from a patient last year. “The vaccine may not prevent you from getting the flu, but you won’t be as sick,” she says. “A younger, healthy colleague of mine caught the flu from the same patient. She had not had a flu shot, and she became so ill she was almost hospitalized.”

Can I get the flu from the flu shot? – “Absolutely not,” says Dr. Quackenbush. “It’s not a live vaccine. You may experience some mild achiness as your body develops antibodies to fight the flu.”

Where can I get a flu shot? – You can get your flu shot from your doctor, at a flu shot clinic or at participating pharmacies. At these pharmacies, specially trained pharmacists can administer the flu shot to people five years of age or older. Children under the age of five should receive the flu shot from a doctor or nurse.

The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit will be administering flu shots at clinics in several locations between now and December 10. For more information, including a list of area flu shot clinics and pharmacies providing flu shots, visit www.healthunit.org or call 613-345-5658 or 1-800-660-5853.