Flu shot is the best defense against influenza

It's never pleasant to get a shot in the arm.

But when it comes to the prevention of influenza, a respiratory illness that is responsible for infecting hundreds of thousands of people each year, there is no better medicine than the flu shot.

Doctor Susan Rehm of the Cleveland Clinic says there are several new features in the types of vaccines that are available this year.

"There is a new vaccine that's available for people 65 years and older, that has what's called an adjuvant in it; this is an added chemical to help it work better," she said.

Rehm says there is also another vaccine that is available to people who have a history of egg allergy that is manufactured without the use of any egg products.

For the first time, there will be no nasal spray vaccine this year.

The US Centers for Disease Control took a look back at the last couple of years and determined that it was basically ineffective, so it has been taken off of the market for this season.

Also, more of this year's vaccine has activity against four strains of flu, rather than just three as in previous years.

Rehm says that it's important to remember that getting vaccinated not only protects you, but it also helps protect those around you, including those who may be more at risk for complications.

The very old, the very young, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions are at a heightened risk for hospitalization, and even death from the flu.

The flu shot is especially important for pregnant women, as the flu can impact both a pregnant mom and her baby as well.

And when it comes to making the time to get vaccinated, Rehm says the sooner the better.

"It's really important for people to take the flu vaccine as early in the season as they can," she said. "It takes at least two weeks for antibodies to show up after the vaccine's been given. So the sooner you take the vaccine, the sooner you'll be protected."

Rehm added that if for some reason you can't get vaccinated until later in the season, go ahead and get your flu shot, as it's better late than never.

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