Hate em’ or love em’ shots are one of the best ways to prevent the flu.  If you’re planning for your entire family or just need a place to start, here’s the skinny on the bug and where to find its injectable demise.


We missed the boat this year.  I had scheduled it on my calendar in red ink:  “Flu shot clinic 10 am.  Take kids.”  I put aside the $20 per kid in my cash envelope and got ready for the kicking, screaming, and pleading for mercy.  Then the sniffles came.  Sore throats followed.  Fevers blasted through my home at 2 kids per hour.  We were already infected.


I suppose you could argue that once we recover, the flu shot would still be a good idea.  After all, there are many more versions of the evil bug that could yet pass through our family of six.  When the time comes (many, many days from now), I’ll think about it.  For the rest of you, I’d get on over to the clinic as soon as you can.  If you’re into that kind of thing.


The vaccine.  Recommended for ages 6 months through adult, the flu shot has been increasingly popular as each year passes.  The shot itself changes year-to-year, but the basic premise is the same.  According to the CDC’s website, it is “an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm.”  While certain groups are encouraged to get the shot, everyone is generally eligible, with the exception  of these groups (who will want to consult their doctor before getting the shot):


  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
  • People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
  • Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

Some of the clinics are offering the Flu-Mist vaccine (which is an inhalable alternative approved for ages 2 and up.  In past studies, kids did better at not getting the flu than those who had gotten the shot.  The nasal vaccine is also recommended for anyone who is concerned about preservatives in their vaccines (Flu-Mist contains no thimerosal.)


The cost.  Some have figured out that the flu shot is sort of expensive  some insurance covers it.  But to do so, you would need to schedule an actual appointment, pay for a visit, and a doctor.  A clinic, on the other hand, asks for cash up-front, has you sit at a folding table, and lets a nurse or a P.A. shoot you up.  You will have to pay (except for a few cases I’ve read where Medicare may be billable) between $20 and $40 dollars.


The verdict.  Some school systems are requiring that students get the flu shot.  If you live in these areas, I guess your mind has been made up for you.  The rest of us get to decide if the risks of the flu shot outweigh the benefits.  Read up, consider it carefully, and choose the option that’s best for you and your family.


And in the meantime, there are plenty of other ways to avoid the flu (with varying results.)  SayBooToTheFlu.com has tips on keeping the germ from spreading, as well as listing flu clinic locations across the country. 


My best advice for flu-fighting?  If you have it, please stay home from school or work.  I’m really no good at sharing…….