GP: Flu Shots

This rotation, I have mastered the skill of giving flu vaccines. Hurray!

The very first time I tried to give a flu shot, the needle didn’t even break the skin – embarrassing!

But now, when people respond with, “Oh, you’ve done it already?” after I tell them, “All done!” I know I’m doing it right.

Important points to know about the flu vaccine:

  • Flu shots protect against certain strains of Influenza A and B by causing your body to produce antibodies that will recognize and fight against the flu should you contract it.
  • It takes 2-3 weeks for your body to produce these antibodies. If you get the flu within 3 weeks after receiving the flu shot, it’s most likely because you didn’t get the vaccine in time.
  • 100% protection is not guaranteed, so there’s still a chance the vaccine will not prevent you from getting the flu.
  • The vaccine does not contain live virus – the vaccine CAN NOT give you the flu.
  • There is a small chance of a severe allergic reaction to the flu shot – that is why everyone is asked to stick around for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to be sure.
  • Side effects of the flu vaccine include: local reaction (redness, swelling, pain, etc), headache, sweating, fevers, muscle/joint pain, fatigue, etc. These side effects are normal and should go away within 1-2 days.
  • Protection lasts around 12 months, which is why you need yearly vaccinations.
  • Children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years of age receiving the flu vaccine for the first time will need 2 shots, one month apart.
  • The flu vaccine is recommended and safe to give to women during any stage of pregnancy.
  • There are 3 main brands I’ve seen at the clinic: Fluvax (do not give to those under 5yo), Vaxigrip (Junior version for 6-35mos old), and Intanza (different delivery system – upper layer of skin rather than muscle. Causes more of a local reaction. For aged 18+)
  • The flu shot here costs around $15-20, but a person may qualify for a free shot they are: 65+ years old, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 15+ years of age, pregnant, have one of the listed medical conditions (ie. heart disease, severe asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, etc)

And remember to let your doctor know of any concerns or side effects 🙂

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