It’s that time of year again – sneezing, sniffling, coughing, aching and fevers. Thankfully most of this is easily avoidable, especially for those proactive people that choose to get flu shots early in the fall. Getting vaccinated is particularly important for people over the age of 65, but recently, medical professionals have been recommending that almost everyone get a flu shot.
This recent influx in the number of people seeking the flu shot has made the vaccine a lot more accessible. The shot is no longer just available at doctors’ offices, but also at local drugstores, and even some grocery stores! In fact, flu shots have become so casual that it might be easy for those administering the shots to forget to bring up some important things. Don’t get me wrong, as health professionals, we love the flu shot. It keeps our beloved patients happy and healthy. Although it’s easy for us to think that patients have already educated themselves on the important of the shot, that’s not always the case. As nurses, it’s crucial to educate patients on the vaccine, and what it really does.
Here are 5 things your patients need to know before getting a flu shot.
1. The best time to get vaccinated.
Flu shots are typically available from September to January, although this depends on how common the virus is that year. It’s best to get your flu shot as soon as it becomes available to lessen your chances of contracting the virus; so most sources recommend trying to get the shot by October.
2. How quickly the vaccine works.
It’s important for your patients to know that it takes about two to three weeks for the flu vaccine to develop the antibodies needed to fight off the virus. So during this time, make sure ask your patients to continue being overly cautious when they’re around others that might be sick.
3. You can still contract the flu virus, even after you’ve gotten the vaccine.
It’s not impossible to get the flu after you’ve been vaccinated. The flu shot provides you with a boost of antibodies that are designed to fight off that season’s flu. Although, the flu virus is always changing, which at times makes the shot less effective. The chances of you contracting the flu, even after the shot, depend on many other factors as well, such as age and health.
4. The side effects to the flu shot.
Despite the fact that the side effects to the flu shot usually aren’t anything extreme, it’s still something that should be discussed prior to administering the shot – especially for first timers. Some of the most common side effects of the vaccine include soreness (especially around the area where the shot was given), low fevers and body aches.
5. There’s more than one kind of flu shot.
There are many different options when considering a flu shot, most based around the patient’s age and any current health situations. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most flu shots are approved for people ages 18-64, and there are other shots for patients as young as six months old. Patients should also know that there is a nasal spray substitute for the flu shot, for patients as young as two years old, but this option has more side effects than the shot. All of these factors should be brought up to your patients prior to the shot to guarantee that your patient is getting exactly what they want.
To ensure your patients leave happy, healthy and educated, discuss these 5 facts about the flu shot with them before administering the vaccine!