How to stay healthy during flu season

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The flu season is here, and doctors say you need to get your flu vaccine to stop the illness from spreading. However, the flu shot may not be right for everyone.

Linda Miller, a registered nurse at Patient First, rolled up her sleeve at work Thursday and got the recommended flu shot.

“I do get them every year. It’s just a little, tiny pinch, not bad at all,” she said. “We want to stay healthy and not pass on the influenza virus to our patients.”

And that’s one way to get the flu vaccine, but health care providers say there is a second choice.

“Its available in two different options — one is nasal and the other is an injection,” said Dr. Randy Villarreal, who practices family medicine at Patient First.

For the most part, Villarreal said the nasal option is reserved for children who have trouble with getting shots. But it’s still an option, and one you might want to consider if you experience flue symptoms: coughing, sneezing, body aches and a high fever.

The best way to avoid getting the virus is good hygiene.

“Washing your hands often, sneeze into your sleeve, use a tissue, all of that, it protects against the virus itself, which can last several days, seven to 10 days,” Villarreal said.

And you don’t need to fear the flu shot, because the doctor dispelled a well-known myth: “You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.”

So, he recommends getting the flu vaccine every year, and in advance of peak season, which is around February. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to set in.

Dr. Villarreal also said children who get the flu vaccine should return for a booster between the ages of six months and 8-years-old.

The Virginia Beach Health Department is offering free flu shots at an upcoming vaccination clinic at Newtown Elementary School. It will be held October 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and be available to anyone older than three-years-old. There are only 1,100 vaccinations available, so it’s first come, first served. Children ages three to eight should bring a copy of their immunization records.

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