Don’t wait to get your flu shot

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If you’ve ever decided against getting a flu shot and then gotten the flu, that’s a mistake you’ll never make again.

If you’ve ever dragged your sick, feverish, sweaty aching carcass to the bathroom and then needed a nap by the time you got back to the couch, you’ll never let another year pass without a shot.

That wretched time of your life when you thought you were going to die (and secretly hoped that you would) can be prevented with 10 minutes at the drug store or doctor’s office and a needle stick full of precaution.

The flu season is in full swing in our area and across the state. And it’s not something you want to fool around with.

The flu is spread as easily as breathing someone else’s air, shaking hands or touching something that someone else has touched, like a door handle or a gas pump or a computer keyboard.

You can start infecting people a full day before you feel the symptoms and five to seven days after you’ve started to feel sick. If you’re around children, those little germ factories can pass it on for longer than seven days.

If you have the flu bug, you can spread it to people who aren’t vaccinated, including babies (who can’t get the shot if they’re under 6 months old) and elderly people, for whom a serious bout with the flu can be fatal.

But it’s not just the very young and very old who can be harmed by this. Last month, a 20-year-old Arizona mother of two died just a couple of days after she was diagnosed with the flu after it turned into pneumonia.

It’s not too late to protect yourself and the people you interact with by getting a shot. And there aren’t many good excuses for not getting one.

The flu shot they give out each year might not be the vaccination for the exact strain of flu that’s going around. But even if this particular vaccination is not a perfect match to the current flu bug, doctors say, a vaccination is still effective in reducing flu symptoms.

Another reason people don’t get the shot is because of its association with egg allergies. But a paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found the flu shot to be safe, even for those with severe egg allergies.

Many people say they’re afraid of needles. But the shot only stings for a second; the flu will beat you down for a week or two. Your choice.

Certainly, we’re not doctors here. We’re joining medical professionals in encouraging people to get the flu shot as a public service. If you’re concerned at all about the potential effects of a flu shot, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before rolling up your sleeve.

If you’ve never had the flu, listen to people who have. And do everything you can to make sure you don’t get it.

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