I decided to get a flu shot (vaccine) yesterday afternoon at the pharmacy in my local supermarket in Florida (Publix). I did not know the pharmacy there even administered them. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase.
I am answering some questions on the experience.
Why did I get it?
Too many people I know are sick in bed with the flu, and are miserable, and I want to try to avoid this. The flu is nasty this year.
Who should get it?
This year, almost everyone over 6 months old, not just seniors or people with illnesses. There are more than enough doses to go around this time. In past years, they could not make enough of the vaccine in the United States and would limit distribution. See the link below for more information.
If you are in close contact with any of the following groups: pregnant women, children under 5 years but especially younger than 2 years, older adults 65 years and older, and people with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, it is very important that you get the shot, since you might pass the flu on to these high risk individuals and harm them.
How effective is it?
The Center of Disease Control says that the shot is about 62% effective. You need to wait two weeks until after you get the shot for it to build full immunization.
Is it too late to get one?
No. However, the height of the season is upon us, and you really should go get one now if you have not.
Have I had a flu shot before?
No. I have not had a cold or the flu in a long time either.
How much did it cost?
$30. If you have health insurance sometimes they will cover it.
Did it hurt?
No. It felt like a skin pinch. It does not go deeper than the surface of your skin.
Did I have any side effects?
Yes. I felt a bit achy last night, and tired, but it was not that bad. My body was busy trying to fight off what it though was a flu infection. This is typical for about 30% of the people who get the shot; more if you have not had one before or in a long time. I feel fine now. Any reaction should go away within 24 hours.
For more information: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm
(Note: I have written this article from the perspective of living in the United States).