Flu Shot FAQs

1. What is influenza (“The Flu”)? Influenza is a virus that attacks the respiratory system (nose/throat/lungs).  Symptoms of the flu are runny nose, sore throat, high fever with chills, muscle aches, and headache.  Influenza is not the “stomach flu”.  There is no antibiotic that can help cure influenza since it is a virus.  There are anti-viral medications that can be taken to decrease the length of the illness in people with certain medical conditions.

Protecting against influenza is important because the disease can include many complications, from ear infections to severe pneumonia.  During the 2009-2010 flu season, there were approximately 1300 children under the age of 18 who died from H1N1 influenza (the swine flu).

2.  How do I protect my family from this disease?

Adding the influenza vaccine (the "flu shot") to good hygiene practices is the best way to defend against influenza.  Good hygiene includes covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough (Elmo may demonstrate), wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often, avoid touching your eyes or mouth, and staying home if you are sick.

3.  Who needs the flu shot?

The CDC and AAP recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receives an influenza vaccine.

I believe children at especially high risk of complications from influenza should make this vaccine a priority.  These kids include: children under the age of 5; those with asthma, diabetes, or any chronic illness; and kids with pregnant moms at home.  In addition, all caregivers and siblings of children under 5 years should be protected for the sake of the child in their care.

Those aged 9 and above only need one influenza vaccine (injectable or FluMist).  Those under the age of 9 may need 2 vaccines separated by 4 weeks based upon previous exposure to the vaccine.  For details, click here.

4.  Who cannot get the flu shot?

Anyone with a severe allergy to eggs cannot get the influenza vaccine.  If you think your child may be allergic to eggs, consult your allergist to see if getting the vaccine is appropriate.

5.  How long does the protection from the flu shot last?

The influenza vaccine provides protection for the entire season.  It is not “too early” to get the vaccine.  The immune response from the vaccine does not reach its peak until at least 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.  Therefore, getting the shot early in the fall season is best.

6.  I’ve heard that I can get the flu from the shot, is that true?

The influenza vaccine does not contain active particles strong enough to cause infection.

For those individuals who have never had the influenza disease or the influenza vaccine in prior seasons, the side effects of muscle soreness and fever are most common.

7.  Does this vaccine contain mercury (thimerosal)?

The supply of vaccine at PA does NOT contain thimerosal.  For an interesting new study on thimerosal exposure and autism risk, click here.

8.  What is FluMist and how is it different from the injectable flu shot?

The FluMist is a form of the influenza vaccine that is given by a nasal spray (the "Flu shot that's not a shot!").  It is available for kids 2 years and older.  It is NOT appropriate for those with some medical conditions, including severe asthma, or pregnant women.  Unlike the injectable influenza vaccine, FluMist contains weakened, live influenza particles.  This allows the body to create an active immune response to the virus without causing the disease in recipients.

9.  How do I get my child vaccinated?

Come to PA!  We are now scheduling influenza vaccines for all our patients.  Appointments for the flu shot can be made by sending an email to the office, or calling during business hours.

10.  Can mom and dad get the shot, too?

Sure!  We can give parents/caregivers the injectable vaccine for $25.00 and the FluMist for $35.00.  The cost of the vaccine must be paid at the time of service, insurance will not be billed.

11.  What if I have more questions?

Talk to your PA provider or see these reputable web sites for more information:

Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Vaccinate Your Baby


12.  How do I feel about the Cornhuskers moving to the Big 10?

No matter the conference, continued domination.  Go 'Skers!