How to make your flu shot quick & painless

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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We all know the reasons why it’s important to get your flu shot. Flu vaccines not only prevent tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year, but they can also lessen the severity of the illness, if you do get the flu.

Even if you’re already wearing a mask and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a flu shot remains your best option to avoid getting the flu virus this year.

While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, the CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. The CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, but the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death.

Getting your flu shot doesn’t have to be painful. When it’s time to get vaccinated against the flu, give these four tips a shot.
1. Relax!
Take a deep breath and try to relax your arm. When the muscles in your arm are tense it creates a tighter surface area for the vaccine to enter, which can cause you to feel more of a pinch. Loosen those muscles by putting your hand on your hip and dropping your shoulder.

  1. Arm yourself with a plan
    Decide which arm you want to get the vaccine in before you go. There are pros and cons to both your dominant arm (the one you use to write with) and your nondominant arm. It’s a personal preference but deciding beforehand can make your experience better.
    If you pick your dominant arm:
  • Pro: You’re more likely to move your dominant arm throughout the day. By moving your arm more, you will work the vaccine into your muscles more quickly and away from the injection site. This will help to relieve the discomfort, if any, that you may feel afterward.
  • Con: Since this is your dominant arm, it also means that this is the arm you’ll be using to write, type, reach and lift. So, if you do tend to get a little sore, you’re going to notice it more in this arm.

If you pick your nondominant arm:

  • Pro: Since this is the arm you’re not using as frequently, you may be able to forget about any potential soreness for a while.
  • Con: Because you’re trying to baby the arm, the medication may linger in the injection site longer and the discomfort, if you’re prone to any, may last a little longer.
  1. Drink lots of water
    Make sure you drink lots of water before and after getting your flu shot. When your body is hydrated your muscles can recover from the injection and move the medication throughout your body much more efficiently.
    4. Try an over the counter pain reliever
    If all else fails, try an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. This will help with any tenderness you might feel and can even be taken before you get your vaccine as a preventative measure. It can also help with that feverish feeling some people experience after receiving the flu shot. Don’t worry, you’re not getting sick! It’s just your body working to metabolize the vaccination and your body’s immune response.

You can get your flu shot at the most convenient source, either through Primary Care, Urgent Care or your closest pharmacy.


Dr. Becky Hollibaugh offers family medicine services in LaPlace. To schedule an appointment with her at Ochsner Health Center – LaPlace Medical (735 W. Fifth St., LaPlace), call 985-652-9504.