Today the History of Vaccines staff — that’s two of us — went out together to get the seasonal influenza vaccine. The drugstore at the corner offers walk-in shots for $27.99, and so we took a pre-lunch field trip. Our health insurance will reimburse us for most of the cost of the immunization.
My co-worker has been getting the vaccine for the past five years or so. She recalls becoming extra careful about getting vaccinated when her grandparents started to become frailer: she wanted to try to ensure that she would not be putting them at risk of getting the flu from her visits.
I have teenaged children, and I got serious about the flu shot when my kids were toddlers. I had a nasty influenza-like illness during the winter when they were three and one years old: for about a week I was an achy, feverish mess, trying to keep my kids from getting ill and myself from getting even more ill. I was so sick that I had a hard time looking after them properly. After that experience, I decided that for all our sakes, I’d make sure to get the vaccine to try to prevent it from happening again.
And so every year, I’ve trekked to the local drugstore, supermarket, or my primary care physician to get the vaccine. Universal vaccination for all children over age 6 months has been recommended only since 2010, but my children have been getting the flu vaccine for at least the past four years. My daughter suffered through a bout of what was probably novel A/H1N1 in June of 2009–this was before the vaccine became available in the fall. Both kids were able to take advantage of school-based immunization for H1N1 when it was offered during the next academic year, and I made sure to get vaccinated, too. None of us has had much of a reaction to the flu shot (or the nasal spray vaccine that my kids have occasionally gotten): a sore arm is the most any of us has experienced.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should get the seasonal influenza vaccine, excepting those with specific contraindications. They’ve published a seasonal influenza vaccination question-and-answer guide that addresses many questions about the vaccine and how it is produced. Flu.gov is another useful site that includes flu vaccine finder based on ZIP code.
The History of Vaccines staff wishes you a healthy 2011-2012 influenza season.