With Flu season just around the corner, there have been more and more advertisements endorsing getting your flu shot. Not many people know much about flu vaccines- what they are made of, what are the side effects, are they safe. There are many people on opposite sides of the spectrum, with people either embracing getting your shot and others whole-heartedly protesting against it. With all this information out there, it is hard to know what side to believe. What exactly is a flu shot vaccine? Are flu shots safe? What are their side effects? Why is it worth getting?

Let’s start with the basics. To understand if flu shots are hazardous, you should first understand what a flu shot is and what it’s made of. Medical News Today lists all the ingredients in the up-to-date 2020-2021 vaccine, with the components consisting of dead strains of the influenza virus, proteins of a chicken egg, antibiotics, gelatin, Thimerosal, Aluminum salts, and a small dosage of Formaldehyde. Some of these ingredients may sound slightly confusing, however, they all come together to create, preserve, and protect the vaccination from other bacteria that could make it harmful to inject. Every element of the vaccine is naturally occurring in the human body or is made of natural ingredients, so you won’t be given any foreign material. Therefore, the ingredients themselves are harmless.

The next question to answer, is getting a flu shot safe? For most people it is. For the general population, it is the most effective way to prevent you from catching the flu. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting your flu vaccine decreases your chances of contracting the flu by as much as 60 percent. However, the vaccine is not safe for everybody. People who have allergies to the ingredients, infants younger than six months of age, and anyone who is already sick or suffers from certain ailments, should avoid getting the shot because it is likely to cause more issues than it will prevent. If you ever have questions about if you should get your flu shot, the CDC provides a list on their official website of types of people who should avoid flu shot vaccines due to their age, allergies, or medical history. Because staying healthy is always important, there are other steps one can take if a flu shot injection is not an option for them. It is better to speak with a medical professional to decide which alternative would be good for you.

Thirdly, for those who are healthy enough to receive a flu shot, what are the side effects of getting one? The most common side effects include soreness, swelling, or redness at the injection site, body and headaches, and a slight fever. The side effects that come along with your vaccine are usually mild, occur right after getting the shot, and go away after a day or two. However, it is a rare occurrence that someone may have a severe allergic reaction to the shot, in that case, they should seek emergency medical help. Symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, trouble breathing, swelling around the face, and hives are all signs that a person may have been allergic to an element is the vaccine. Again, if this is the case, these symptoms should occur soon after getting the shot, so you should know if the vaccine is the direct cause.

Lastly, it is important to answer the question of why are the shots important to get. With all of these possible side effects, surely the vaccine must be dangerous, right? Actually, it is more dangerous to not get your flu shot than to get it. The CDC found that getting your yearly shot decreases your chances of getting the flu, and for those who are vaccinated but still contract it, it increases their chances of survival and decreases the amount of time they spend hospitalized. It is to help maintain your health and increase your chances of surviving the illness if you were to catch it. The side effects are only temporary and short-lasting, but the aftermath of contracting the flu virus and possibly losing your life is not.

Is the flu shot worth getting? Absolutely. Though there is a lot of misinformation out there about what they are and if they’re safe, but the facts are that they are safe for most people and help ensure that you either don’t get the flu or can fight it off. The ingredients are safe for most and the side effects are only mild and temporary. And if securing your well-being is still not enough to convince you to get your vaccine, do it for those around you. Not only does it help guarantee your health, but also the health of those around you. Babies, the elderly, and those who have chronic illnesses are more likely to contract the flu virus and the serious medical problems it can cause. Not to mention that their chances of surviving the virus are much lower than a healthy young adult. The bottom line is this- if you can get your flu shot, you should. Getting it won’t hurt you and will help keep everyone else and yourself, safe, sound, and healthy.

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