Flu shot… or not?
You’ll likely have noticed the influenza vaccination centers popping up, and may have wondered whether or not to get yourself or your family vaccinated this year. I’ve put together some information to better arm you – excuse the pun – in making that decision.

What is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses that affects birds and mammals, including humans.

I never had the flu before I had kids!
Influenza can be transmitted through direct contact with nasal secretions or bird droppings, or through contact with a contaminated surface. However, the most common way to transmit the flu is through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, creating an airborne aerosol.

Symptoms of influenza usually appear one to seven days after contact. The flu can spread easily and often affects a community all at once. Students and child care workers are prone to acquiring influenza virus because they are often confined to one room. Students may become sick within two to three weeks after the flu’s arrival in their environment.

How do I know if it’s the flu or just a cold?

Many people mistake a flu for the common cold. However, while colds usually develop slowly, influenza is marked by a sudden onset and high fever. Other signs and symptoms of the flu:

High Fever (usually higher than 100 Fahrenheit)

Fatigue and weakness

Painful muscles (back, arms, and legs)

Nasal congestion


Chills and sweats

Lack of energy


Nausea and vomiting

Dry cough

Flushed face

Day two to four: fever and other body symptoms begin to subside. Breathing symptoms may begin to rise at this point. Flu symptoms may worsen asthma, breathing problems, and other long-term illnesses.

People may develop a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. Nasal discharge is clear and watery indicating a viral infection. Nasal discharge that accompanies a cold will be green or yellow, indicating bacterial infecetion.

Day four to seven: fever may come back and patients often feel extremely tired for a week. In some cases, people lose their appetite.

Risk factors

While there are precautions you can take to prevent getting the flu, there are some unavoidable risk factors:


influenza targets young children and people over 65


mostly those working in hospitals and other health facilities

Living conditions

living in facilities with other residents such as nursing homes or military barracks may put you at greater risk

Weakened immune system /Chronic illness

asthmatics, diabetics, those with heart problems



Is there an alternative to getting an injection?
The flu vaccination can be administered by injection or nasal spray. The table below provides more infomation on who can receive each kind of treatment.

Flu shot

Nasal spray

Administered through a needle — you’ll need an injection

Administered through a spray — you won’t need an injection

Contains killed viruses — you can’t pass the flu along to anyone else

Contains weakened live viruses that won’t give you the flu but that can, in rare cases, be transmitted to others

Approved for use in people 6 months of age and older

Approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49 years

Can be used in people at increased risk of flu-related complications, including pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions

Given only to non-pregnant healthy people, not to those with chronic medical conditions, suppressed immune systems, or to children and adolescents receiving aspirin therapy


  • the influenza virus may change its structure each year, making the vaccine used in previous years ineffective.
  • the vaccine works to fight the influenza virus within two weeks after administration