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Have You Gotten Your Flu Shot?

By Trina McConnell, Point Park News Service

Everyone wants to know if you’re vaccinated, from your doctor to your employer, even the cashier at the drug store is asking, “Have you gotten your flu shot?”

As a mother of two boys, Kat Schnur counts herself lucky neither of her sons have gotten the nasty flu that’s currently filling hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers across the country.

Kat Schnur and her sons.

Schnur didn’t give much thought to the flu shot prior to 2009 when her son, Kenny, was born prematurely in September. She decided to get the flu shot as “an extra layer of protection” for her son when doctors suggested she and her husband get the vaccine due to Kenny’s compromised immune system.

“It was our first child and our only experience, so we didn’t know anything different,” said Schnur. “The NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) was the most amazing and frightening experience all in one.”

The NICU team and pediatricians were available to answer any questions and offer literature on the vaccine.

Sue Ruffing works for a hospital and is required to get the vaccine every year, or else have to wear a mask at work.

“I don’t think it really has any risks, but I know it doesn’t cover all strains of the flu,” Ruffing said. “Once the lady giving me my flu shot put it in the wrong spot and I couldn’t lift my arm for a couple of months.”

Even though Ruffing acknowledges that reaction can happen with any vaccine, she still gets her flu shot diligently every year.

Not everyone feels as strongly about the flu shot. Amanda Chasko refuses them for herself and her daughters every year, and said it’s “never the strain of flu going around contained in it.”

When asked about the benefits of the flu shot, she says it may “lessen the effect but not worth the headache.”

Christie Barron, RN-BC, CSN said, “I feel the flu shot is important to help build immunity against strains of flu to help protect the body…It does not eliminate every chance of you getting the flu, but it can decrease your chances.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update in early February on the current flu outbreak.

While there are reports of the vaccine only being 10%-20% effective against the most prevalent strain this year, that it is still 30% – 40% effective overall when including all flu strains, according to the CDC.

Anne Schuchat, director at the CDC, addressed the concerns over the reliability of the vaccine.

“We are experiencing low effectiveness against H3N2,” she said.

Despite the uncertainty that surrounds the vaccine every year, Schnur still chooses to vaccinate herself and her boys.

“I choose to get a flu vaccine because no matter how minimal the protection is, it is still a layer of protection and the research demonstrates minimal adverse effects from the shot,” Schnur said.

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