WASHINGTON - Fall brings colorful leaves and pumpkin spice-- but it's also an open invitation for an unwanted guest known as the flu. Now is the time to take early precautions and make sure you don't wind up down and out. In short, it's flu shot season!
Don't let the fear of needles stop you from protecting yourself. Dr. Shilpi Agarwal says getting the flu vaccine is an important step in making sure you don't get sick this year, and she helped us separate flu shot fact from flu shot fiction.
Here are five important things you should know about the flu vaccine:
#1: TWO TYPES OF FLU SHOTS: TRIVALENT VS. QUADRIVALENT
What's the difference? The Trivalent flu vaccine protects you against the three common strains that cause the flu. The Quadrivalent flu vaccine, which has gotten a lot of press, protects against the three strains plus an additional strain. Dr. Agarwal says it's not necessarily better, but it does protect you from that fourth strain.
It's also important to note that the Quadrivalent flu vaccine is not readily available and is more costly. However, Dr. Agarwal recommends getting it if you have access.
#2: ONE FLU SHOT PROTECTS YOU FOR THE WHOLE SEASON.
One shot and you’re done! But remember, it doesn’t take effect right away. Typically, it takes two weeks for the antibodies to develop, so get it early.
#3: THE BEST TIME TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT?
Since it takes about two weeks for the shot to take effect, the best time to get yours between now and the end of October.
#4: MYTH BUSTED. THE FLU SHOT DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE FLU.
Dr. Agarwal put the biggest myth put to rest! Flu vaccines are not a live virus. If you do feel symptoms like a cold or cough, they may have manifested after you got the vaccine. Rest assured, you CAN NOT get the flu as a result of the shot itself.
#5: NO MORE FLU MIST.
According to the CDC, the flu mist alternative has been ruled as ineffective. They’re urging people to get the traditional shot instead.
Before you get the vaccine, Dr. Agarwal strongly recommends make sure your doctor is aware of any allergies you may have.
BONUS: BUT WHAT IF I'M SCARED?
If you're avoiding getting a flu shot because you're afraid it will hurt, try this. Tell your doctor to squeeze your arm before inserting the needle. Then take a deep breath in and ask your doctor to give you the injection as you're blowing out.
Trust us, it's not that bad. Just ask Allison Seymour. She took one for the team and got her flu shot from Dr. Agarwal on live TV!