How to have a quick and painless flu shot

Published 1:42 pm Saturday, August 19, 2023

The end of summer signifies fall is around the corner, and with fall comes flu season. Since October 2022, there have been an estimated 27 to 54 million flu cases in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu virus. The CDC suggests September and October as the best time to get a flu shot. Everyone six months and older should get the flu vaccine. Vaccination helps reduce the risk of severe flu, especially for those at higher risk. This includes young children, pregnant people, those with chronic health conditions, and people 65 years and older.

Patients can get a flu shot at a location that is most convenient for them. This can be through a primary care physician, local flu vaccine drive, or even at your pharmacy. Some people may experience mild side effects from the vaccine such as headache, fatigue, cough, low fever, arm soreness, redness or swelling. These usually lasts one to two days.

Before getting the flu shot, make sure to drink a lot of water. Hydrating your body allows the muscles to recover and the medication from the injection to move efficiently throughout the body.

Choosing which arm to receive the vaccine can change your overall experience. The decision between your dominant and nondominant arm is a matter of personal choice. Your dominant arm, the one you use for writing, might exhibit some mild soreness post-injection. However, since you employ this arm more frequently during the day, the vaccine may efficiently disperse into the surrounding muscles, away from the injection point, potentially alleviating discomfort. Or you can opt for the nondominant arm. Given its less frequent use, any initial soreness you might encounter following the injection is likely to feel insignificant.

Try to relax your arm before and while the flu shot is administered. When the muscles are tense, the surface area may become tight, resulting in more of a pinch sensation as the shot is administered.

After receiving the shot, if you experience a fever, there is often no need to worry. The fever results from the body working to metabolize the vaccine and part of your body’s immune response. An over-the-counter pain reliever can help relieve your fever and any pain or tenderness.

The flu shot protects you from illness and protects others. Additionally, try avoiding the flu by practicing good preventative habits such as washing hands frequently, avoiding close contact with someone who may have the flu and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing,

 

Dr. Jayesh Madrecha is board-certified in Family Medicine and has been practicing at Ochsner since 2017. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Madrecha at Ochsner Health Center – Driftwood (2120 Driftwood Boulevard), visit www.ochsner.org or call 504-443-9500.