Health Team

Easy-to-get flu shot can help avoid agony of illness

Posted October 10, 2014 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2014 6:29 p.m. EDT

Anyone can walk into almost any pharmacy these days and get a flu shot, and doctors say it’s worth it to avoid the agony of the flu.

"You're really on your back flat. You have high fever, body aches, muscles aches, severe headaches,” said Dr. Shelia Nolan.

But how effective is the vaccine?

"The vaccine prevents illness about 80 percent of the time for those under 60 and about half the time for those over 65,” said Dr. Orly Avitzur with Consumer Reports. “But even if you do get sick after the vaccine, your symptoms are usually milder."

Consumer Reports says the FluMist spray is better protection than a shot for children ages 2 to 8. They may need a second dose a month later.

"The nasal spray is made of a weakened but still active live virus, so it shouldn't be given to people with a poor immune system or their caregivers, pregnant women, or anyone over 50,” Avitzur said.

A high-dose flu vaccine is recommended for those over age 65.

An intradermal vaccine, which injects only into the skin layer, is another option for those between ages 18 to 64.

Anyone who feels the flu coming on should ask a doctor within the first day or two about prescribing the anti-viral drug Tamiflu. Consumer Reports says if taken early, it can ease flu symptoms and reduce complications such as pneumonia.

In addition to doctors' offices and pharmacies, residents can go to churches, airports and community centers for flu shots. To find where the nearest vaccine is available, search the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.