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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > Flu Season is Here & Flu Shots are Available

Flu Season is Here & Flu Shots are Available

November 4, 2008

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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Read more about Flu and ways to prevent it.

When is the last time you have seen a child excited about a vaccine? Last year at our flu clinics, children were walking away with smiling faces after having received the nasal flu spray, which is for many people a welcome alternative to getting a shot.

There's a good deal of discussion about the need to immunize children against infectious diseases, such as chicken pox and measles, but flu is actually the most common vaccine-preventable illness affecting children today. That is why the flu vaccine is now recommended for children ages 6 months to 19 years.

The nasal flu spray is widely available and is an option for healthy people ages 2 to 49 and who are not pregnant.

I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, here to talk to you about the importance of flu vaccine.

Children and adults can spread the flu even before they get a runny nose or sore throat. That's because the flu starts being contagious one day before symptoms even appear. And the flu can be passed for five days after a person gets sick.

School-aged children are in close contact with each other and can easily pass the flu. Besides missing school, children may pass the flu to those most likely to develop serious complications or be hospitalized, like a baby brother or sister, grandparents, or a friend or family member with asthma.

To further protect those most vulnerable, we encourage health care workers and anyone who lives with or cares for someone elderly to get vaccinated against the flu. The same is true for anyone who lives with or cares for children under 5. Pregnant women also are encouraged to get the flu shot to protect themselves and their babies.

Of course, anyone who wants to stay healthy and avoid the flu can get the flu vaccine. However, people who are allergic to eggs should not get vaccinated because the vaccine contains egg products.

Small children from 6 months to age 2 and older adults can protect themselves with the flu shot.

There are still people who are reluctant. They worry that they'll get sick from the vaccine. I have patients who say they know someone who got the flu from the vaccine.

Since the flu shot is not made from a live virus, that is not possible. Any potential side effects from the shot— a low grade fever, soreness in the arm and aches—are much less severe than the illness from the influenza viruses we are now seeing. There is a slightly higher risk with the nasal vaccine but it's still very low.

For information about flu vaccinations and where to get them, visit our website at

Thanks for listening.

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