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Flu shots are available to anyone looking to reduce their chances of becoming ill. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises the following groups of people to receive a shot every year:
The common myth that the flu shot can cause the flu is false. In fact, the three flu viruses in each vaccine are effectively killed, meaning they cannot cause infection.
However, there are still side-effects, including soreness where the shot was given, minor fever and aches. The CDC also warns that serious allergic reaction, while rare, can occur. Be sure to call a doctor right away if you experience breathing problems, wheezing, paleness, weakness, fast heartbeat or dizziness.
The CDC also notes that some individuals should not be vaccinated without first consulting a doctor. These include, people who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination, people who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine, children less than 6 months of age and people who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever.
The flu vaccine is not a sure-fire solution for avoiding the flu. According to the CDC, effectiveness of the vaccine depends on a few things:
While the worst flu hits in winter, you can still catch it in the fall. But it is never too late to protect yourself.
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