Your PSA For The Week: Stop The Flu

Some of you know I’m a nurse. I may not be working as a nurse now, but I still have my license and all of that knowledge is still stuck in my brain and used on a regular basis. (I even have nursing dreams, where I’m drawing up meds for a patient and making sure the doses are correct. You wish you had dreams this glamorous, no?)

Anyway…have you had your flu shot yet? Winter is coming (and the next season of Game of Thrones), but the flu is already here. I’ve read several Facebook status updates from friends who have been suffering with the flu. And just last week two in my house were struck down by it – first Cordy, then Aaron.

It’s a nasty flu this year, too. High fever, headache, body aches, chills, coughing, and lots of mucous. Having watched it progress twice in one week, I can safely say it doesn’t look pleasant at all. You don’t want this.

So you might argue that you don’t want to get a shot. If you’re against vaccinations for religious, medical or personal reasons, then by all means skip it. I believe strongly in personal choice, as we have skipped a few vaccinations here, too. You might get the flu, and you may feel miserable, but I’m not one to challenge doctor’s advice or a pillar of your beliefs.

But if your reason is just that you don’t want to make a doctor’s appointment, or you don’t like needles, then I suggest you reconsider. You don’t want your life to be on hold for days while you feel weak and miserable.

Just as important, you don’t want to put stress on your family to come take care of you either, right? And I know you don’t want to pass your flu on to others who might not have the immune response that you do to fight it off.

I didn’t feel like waiting for an appointment with my doctor, so I went to the Walgreens down the road for my flu shot.

(Full disclosure: Walgreens and their Balance Rewards program are sponsors of this blog. Please see their ad off to the right for more details.)

My entire flu shot experience lasted less than 15 minutes from the moment I walked into the store until the moment I was walking out. It would have been even less time than that, but they recommend you stick around for a few minutes after the shot just to make sure you don’t have any reaction.

How easy was it? I walked up to the pharmacy counter, told the pharmacist I wanted my flu shot, filled out a quick questionnaire, and then was asked to go to a little private cubicle for the shot.

the only form needed

The pharmacist then came in, gave me the injection, and put a band-aid on my arm. He then walked back behind the counter, rang it out on the register and gave me my receipt.

Because of our insurance, it was free – I would have paid for an office visit if I went to see my doctor! If you don’t have insurance, it’s still inexpensive at Walgreens. (And either way you can earn 500 Balance Rewards points for it, if you’re a member.)

If you are truly scared of needles, you can ask for the FluMist when you get your flu vaccine. It doesn’t use needles and is instead sprayed into your nose. That’s the form Mira’s pediatrician gave her at her annual check-up last month.

Did my shot hurt? Yeah, for a moment. And my upper arm was a little sore for the next couple of days. But that was nothing compared to what I saw the flu do to my daughter and husband this week. In a cruel twist of fate, Cordy’s annual check-up was today, when she was scheduled to get her flu shot. (She got the FluMist anyway.)

When I was younger I never gave a second thought to a flu shot. I didn’t want another shot, so I always turned it down. After going through nursing school, and seeing just how bad the flu can be for some people (as in, life-threatening), I now routinely get them each year. I may be strong enough to fight it off, but I don’t want to be miserable for days, and I don’t want to make others sick.

Of the four people in our house, the only two who didn’t get the flu were the ones who had our flu shots. If I learned any lesson from this, it’s that I shouldn’t wait so long to make sure the whole family is protected next year.

Legal disclosure: I am a registered nurse, but this post should be considered friendly advice and NOT be considered medical advice. Always check with your doctor or a medical professional (like the pharmacist) who can review your health history before any vaccination. And yes, the flu shot only protects against the flu strains that they expect to be the most common. It is still possible – although less likely – to get the flu even if you have received the vaccination.

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  1. Children’s Hospital now requires all employees get the flu shot or get terminated for the health and safety of our patients. I usually don’t care for heavy handedness but in this case I’m OK with it. I’ve gotten the shot every year since I got the flu during exam week and had campus police escort me to the health center from my Organic Chem exam!

  2. Lauren @ the VEC says:

    Getting the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from becoming sick with influenza. If you have questions about influenza or the influenza vaccine, The Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a Q&A sheet, “Influenza: What you should know,” that you might find helpful:

    The information is also available in Spanish:

  3. MN RN Mom says:

    As an RN I second and third this advice! My husband and I get the flu shot every year. Unfortunately our daughter is ineligible because of an egg allergy. (why oh why can’t they grow at least one strain NOT in eggs?) We have been lucky so far but get nervous every winter. I’ve been getting the flu shot for many years because of my asthma – higher risk factor. It gets very tempting to make it mandatory for both the staff I work with and anyone wanting to visit their elders in LTC in the winter. They simply don’t realize how easy it is to be a carrier to these vulnerable adults! Thanks for getting the message out!

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