Flu Shots and More
Every year, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their counterparts around the globe get together to decide which combinations of vaccine should be put in flu shots. This year, of the three types that will be used (H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B virus), two of them are new.
It’s the H3N2 virus that appears to be taking off like a rocket already. In all of 2011, there were only 12 total cases. Already this year, that number is up to 306 and rising, with most of it happening since summer.
Many pharmacies have been making flu shots available for years, and some of them have now expanded to include a whole array of vaccinations:
- Flu (influenza)
- Pneumonia (pneumococcal)
- Tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) (Tdap)
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Meningitis (meningococcal)
- Hepatitis B
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- Shingles (herpes zoster)
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Hepatitis A
That’s quite a long list. And that’s where a potential problem lies: Should you have all those shots? No. Except for flu, most of these shots are not annual vaccines, per the CDC. For example, the Tdap is generally a booster every 10 years. A number of the others are only for those whose doctor recommends them. Some are taken in a series.
And that’s where your doctor comes in. Before you line up for any shot, ask your doctor what you should get. Or have it done at the doctor’s office so it’s noted in your records.
And remember that it takes two weeks for a flu shot to start working.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.