Yes, most people above the age of 6 months should get a flu shot. No, the flu shot can’t make you sick. And yes, you can still get the flu after getting the flu shot but it won’t be as bad as without.
Those were some of the many questions Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, public health officer for Stanislaus County, answered when she stopped by The Modesto Bee for a Facebook Live chat Tuesday morning.
In the fall, the county's Health Services Agency holds flu shot clinics for residents who want to protect themselves and their children against the flu. It's estimated that influenza sickens 35 million in the U.S. every year, putting hundreds of thousands of people in hospitals and resulting in perhaps 50,000 deaths.
Q. Who should get a flu shot? What ages?
A. Everyone over the age of six months. There is no vaccine approved for babies under the age of six months.
Q. Does SB 277 make the flu shot mandatory?
A. No. The vaccination law does not pertain to flu shots. It requires other vaccines, such as measles, for schoolchildren.
Q. When does the flu season begin and end each year?
A. We have seen some flu in the county already. Flu season usually starts about now, and peaks in December, January, February. We say you should get a flu shot by Oct. 31. If you wait too long, it just takes longer for your immunity to kick in.
Q. How long until the flu shot takes effect?
A. Two weeks.
Q. What happened to the nasal spray vaccine. Is it no longer recommended?
A. They found that wasn’t protecting against one of the strains. It is not recommended until they can somehow fix whatever the problem was with the fourth strain.
Q. In a recent Modesto Bee story on local flu shot clinics, more than 65 people commented on Facebook that they are against flu vaccinations, some claiming the vaccines are harmful. What can you say to reassure people that flu shots are safe?
A. People want to be healthy. They want to take care of themselves ... with flu shots, they see the risk of vaccine. Hundreds of millions of Americans have had it. There’s been a lot of vaccines given. We know it’s safe. What people don’t look at is the risk of not vaccinating. For every risk we see with vaccinating, the risk of not vaccinating is higher.