Flu shots are recommended for anyone who wants to avoid getting sick with the flu this winter. But for people who have asthma (or parents of children with asthma), getting a flu shot is an essential step to staying healthy.
Certain groups are considered "high risk" when it comes to the flu. Some of these are healthcare workers who are in a position to transmit the flu to already sick people. Others are the elderly, whose health may be somewhat fragile to begin with.
But, possibly one of the largest groups in the US (considering 16 million of us have it!) that should have a flu shot every year are asthmatics. You see, asthma is a respiratory condition that stresses your airways and respiratory health, due to inflammatory changes. The flu is also a respiratory illness, so combining them can make you sick and in some cases, may even be life-threatening.
If you are a parent of a child who has asthma, it is imperative that both of you get flu shots. Your child should, certainly, but you also need to avoid getting the flu and infecting your child.
Many people are worried that flu shots will give them the flu. That is impossible, though, because flu vaccine is made from killed virus. Getting the vaccine still stimulates your body to produce antibodies that will combat the flu virus, but there is no way killed virus can bring on the flu. It's just not possible.
Some people, though, do have some mild side effects after getting a flu shot and may feel a bit under the weather for a day or two. Or, you might have a bit of soreness at the injection site. Either way, these effects are very short term and the benefits far outweigh the temporary discomfort.
You also might have heard that flu shots are not a guarantee that you won't get the flu. Most times, if you've had a flu shot, you are protected. However, you could still get a very light case of the flu, especially if you wait until the last minute to get your flu shot. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for your body to build up its immunity after getting a flu shot. So, if you happen to be exposed to someone with the flu during that build up period, you might get a mild case.
If you hate to take shots (although flu shots do not usually hurt that much) or your child is afraid of needles, there is an inhaled vaccine that is available these days. You can talk with your doctor about whether this might be an option for you or your child.
The bottom line is that every person with asthma needs to get a flu shot every year if they expect to stay healthy throughout the winter!
Published On: October 29, 2007