Don't Be Flu-ish: Allergies and Immunity regarding the Flu Vaccine

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I meant to say, “Don’t be foolish!” The influenza virus is spreading at alarming speed, and only recently are New Yorkers and other states taking it seriously. There is almost no good reason to not get an influenza shot or nasal mist. Unless a child has asthma, the flu mist is a must to prevent the more severe symptoms that can accompany this virus. Children and adults with asthma are advised to get the flu shot which for them is considered safer. The only relative contraindication to the influenza vaccine is a severe egg allergy, in individuals that have had anaphylaxis.

The overwhelming majority of patients that don’t get a flu shot say: “I don’t want to get the flu from the shot itself”. This really doesn’t make sense, because the flu vaccine contains a purified protein from the virus, which has been weakened or killed. When it comes into contact with your immune system, it will then begin to make antibodies to patrol the bloodstream for a future real influenza encounter. The antibodies typically take about 2 weeks to reach protective levels, and should remain protective for several months.

I say all this from personal experience. When I was a doctor in training, we weren’t offered the flu vaccine, unfortunately. I was working long hours in the Emergency room and must have come in contact with a patient that had early flu-like symptoms and became infected. I was sick for almost 3 weeks with high fevers, a painful cough and generalized body aches. I was in my 20″s but I felt 90. I swore to myself to never go unvaccinated again.

The places where flu can spread are numerous: buses, subways, airports…anywhere and everywhere. Yes, washing your hands frequently can help…so can disinfectant. The only real way you can have some mental comfort is to get the flu vaccine. Dr. Mitchell’s orders!

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island

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