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To do or not to do?

Many patients confess that they have never gotten a flu shot. They have just always been skeptical, and never actually gotten the flu ... until now. Now that flu season is upon us, they can't help but wonder: will this be the year they get the shot? or skip it yet again? 

Flu season is here. Get the seasonal flu vaccine facts right with our following tips.  

Wondering how you can protect yourself from seasonal flu or the nowadays famous H1N1? Or just weighing the pros and cons of the seasonal flu vaccine? The flu vaccine is not only about protecting you from getting the flu but also to prevent you from transmitting the flu to vulnerable people around you, such as the elderly, children, or the immuno-compromised.

Here are some of the fast facts about flu prevention that you've been looking for. 

Influenza causes thousands of people to be hospitalized every year. Some people die from flu-related causes. Prevention is key. In 2010, the United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices expanded the recommendation for influenza vaccine to include all individuals 6 months old and older.

Ideally, you should get the seasonal flu vaccine by April. However, getting vaccinated with the flu shot makes sense any time during flu season, which may last in whole winter. 

Think the flu vaccine can give you the flu? It can't. The vaccine is made with a dead (flu shot) or weakened form of the flu virus (nasal flu vaccine), which can't give you influenza. The nasal flu vaccine has caused transfer of the virus to others, but the risk of this happening is extremely low. 

Why do you need to get vaccinated every year? There's a good reason for that. Flu viruses change, so flu vaccines must change, too. Each year's vaccine is unique, cultivated from the flu strains health officials believe will be most menacing that year. 

It's long been advised that people with allergies to eggs should not get the flu shot. However, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says the vaccine contains such a low amount of egg protein that it's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in those with an egg allergy. If you have a severe egg allergy (anaphylaxis), talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine. Also, flu vaccines not made with the use of eggs are available. 

Pros and cons

Pros: Getting the seasonal flu vaccinate cuts your risk of getting the flu by at least 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means you're 70 percent less likely to develop miserable symptoms like fever, coughs, congestion and body aches. 

Pros: Getting flu shot now will keep you at the office Why use sick days with the flu when you could avoid getting it altogether?

Con: Protection isn't immediate It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to really kick in. 

Con: There can be side effects Some people develop symptoms ranging from soreness and swelling at the area of injection to low-grade fever and achiness. 

Pros:The good news? Generally these clear up within a day or two. 

Pros: If you don't get the flu to begin with, you won't be susceptible to potentially serious complications like trouble breathing, pneumonia and even death. That makes getting vaccinated extra important for anyone prone to flu complications, including people who are 50 or older, are pregnant or have a weakened immune system or chronic condition (like heart disease or asthma). Babies under 6 months are also vulnerable (but too young to get vaccinated), so anyone in close contact with them needs to get vaccinated. When it comes to the H1N1 flu, children and young adults seems to be at greatest risk for complications. 

Pros: Among the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), getting vaccinated cuts the risk of dying from the flu by 80 percent. 

Pros: Get vaccinated early enough and you'll be protected for the whole season. You need to get vaccinated before you're exposed to the flu, so the sooner the better.

Get vaccinated and stay safe 

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