Doctor Mike breaks down everything you need to know about the flu shot

With flu shot kicking into high gear, right now is the time to get vaccinated. Yahoo Life consults with Doctor Mike Varshavski to break down everything you need to know about this season’s flu shot. He shares the biggest myth about the vaccine, the populations most at risk for catching the virus, how exactly the shot works, and much more.

Video Transcript

DR. MIKE VARSHAVSKI: Hey, everybody. I'm Dr. Mike Varshavski, a board-certified family medicine physician. And I'm here to tell you everything you need to know about this year's flu shot.



We're actually putting into a syringe an inactivated version of the influenza virus so that your body can create its immune defense if it does happen to run into the flu later that season. It gives you a decreased chance of developing the flu. If you are to get the flu, you're going to get less complications, and it'll decrease the likelihood of you getting the flu each season as you get the flu shot. Each flu season vaccine differs in that we try and predict which is going to be the main flu strain that we're going to experience. The averages is that the flu shot will decrease the likelihood of you getting the flu [COUGHING] about 40% to 60% of the time, depending on how good we are at predicting this year's flu strain.

Typical flu season runs from about September to some time in April, May. We've actually seen some flu seasons go into the summer months. And the biggest and most important time for you to get the flu shot is in September, October time frame because this is just before the flu season kicks into high gear. And remember, you need at least two to three weeks to actually start developing antibodies in order to protect yourself from the flu.

Everyone over the age of six months should be getting the flu shot. There are some rare exceptions for those individuals who have severe life-threatening allergies to any ingredient found in the flu shot. This season we do have some options of flu shots that, for example, do not have an egg component to them, so many individuals who have an egg allergy should still consider getting their flu shot this season.

The groups that are most at risk for developing the flu and even complications from the flu are usually six months and younger or those over the age of 65. There are also two specific patient populations that are at risk-- those who have immunocompromised states and those who are pregnant. Nowadays you can get the flu shot almost anywhere-- pharmacies, your primary care office. Hospital systems have drives where they give the flu shot. My recommendation would be to contact your primary care provider's office and figure out a way how to do it in the safest way possible, keeping in mind that COVID-19 is still around.

The biggest myth about getting a flu shot is that you can potentially get the flu from the flu shot. [BUZZER] You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The most common side effects that you will get is some redness, some soreness in the area where you received the vaccination, or you might even feel a little bit down for about 24 hours. That's your immune system kicking into high gear and creating those antibodies that will fight off the flu virus if you are to run into it later that season. Also, I'd like to keep in the back of your mind that by getting a flu shot you're not just protecting yourself. You're protecting all those individuals who cannot get the flu shot.