We received our annual flu shots the other day. I’ve been getting a flu shot since college (19 years now). I have allergies and asthma and I would spend every Christmas break sick in bed with upper respiratory issues.  My mother, who was a nurse at the time, insisted I get a flu shot.  After that I no longer spent my holidays in bed sick. Today my entire family gets a flu shot every fall, mainly because we all have allergies and some of us have asthma. Plus, I have a bunch of daycare children with runny noses in my home daily.  The flu shot is recommended for the elderly, the young, pregnant women and people with asthma.

I am always surprised that people think the flu shot is to protect you from stomach flu – vomiting and diarrhea.  In fact, the flu shot protects you from influenza, an upper respiratory flu which is not related to vomiting.  MedicineNet.com says:

“The flu (or common flu) is a viral infection that is spread from person to person in secretions of the nose and lungs, for example when sneezing. Medically, it is referred to as influenza. Flu is a respiratory infection, that is, an infection that develops primarily in the lungs.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists the symptoms of influenza:

“Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)”

After the shot, all of us felt sore at the injection site for several days. I think it is a small price to pay to be protected, especially since I am an asthmatic. It really helps me get through this flu season. So remember, you aren’t protecting yourself from stomach flu, instead you are protecting yourself from influenza.  Although you get the shot, you should continue to wash your hands and cover your sneezes and coughs.  Good luck this flu season!