Health Department Explains Why Getting A Flu Shot Is Important

'There were some national statistics that suggested we lost 80,000 people'

Larry receiving his flu shot

Rob Graner

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - There is no way to predict how bad the flu season is going to be each year.

The only way to prevent it, is to receive a vaccination.

Dr. Karen Hacker, Director at the Allegheny Health Department, joined KDKA Radio on Tuesday to tell listeners what the flu is and why it is important to receive a vaccine.

How deadly was the flu last year?

“There were some national statistics that suggested we lost 80,000 people. Here in Pittsburgh, I think it was in the thirties,” Dr. Hacker said.

“We definitely had more flu cases than we have had in years. The year prior to that was a pretty benign flu season, so I think it gives us a false sense of security.”

What is the flu?

“Influenza is a virus. It has a habit of changing shape a little bit each year. So the vaccine that we get is adapted to what they predict to be the circulating flu each year,” Hacker tells KDKA Radio.  

“Sometimes they (Centers for Disease Control) get it right on the money, and sometimes they don’t.”

Can a person still receive the nasal spray instead of a shot?

“Last year they took away the nasal spray. They didn’t find that it was having much of an impact,” Hacker added.

If you receive a flu vaccine, it will make you sick and give you the flu. Is this true or false?

“False. You’re not going to get sick from the flu vaccine,” Hacker explains.

“However, it’s possible that you were exposed to it before you get the vaccine.”

Is there any difference if you go to your doctor or pharmacy for a vaccine?

“There are a number of different types of vaccines and they are all very effective,” said Dr. Hacker.

“We’ve been hearing about the egg free vaccine, we’ve been hearing about the high dose vaccine for people over 65, and you just need to make sure that your provider is what they have and what they’re suggesting for you.”

When is the recommended time to receive a flu shot?

“Earlier the better. We’d like you to get it at least two weeks before the flu season really kicks into high gear,” Dr. Hackers tells Larry and John.

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