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Fri, Feb. 22
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Myth and Truth

Flu season is just around the corner, yet rumors and whispers claiming the flu shot causes its recipients to become sick still seep through the grapevine.

Doctors want to clarify the facts behind flu shots. They said people getting sick with the flu after receiving the shot is a myth.

"It's not a live virus. You cannot get the flu from the actual shot," said Brandy Embry, a physician's assistant at Oaklawn Family Practice.

Embry said some people can react to the shot by forming a fever, which in turn causes muscle aches. However, these are not from the flu, as many people believe.

"When they get the vaccine, they're not protected against the flu for at least two weeks . . . In two weeks time, it's possible they got in touch with someone with the flu," said Dr. Salma Mazhar, with Yavapai County Community Health Services.

Mazhar added that sometimes, people coincidentally come down with the common cold after a shot and therefore mistaken those symptoms for the flu.

Both Embry and Mazhar said the body takes six weeks to build complete immunity against the strains of influenza used in the shot. This is why people should begin vaccinations early.

They recommend going mid-to late-October, into November. Yet Dieter Krantz, administrator at the Prescott Valley Primary and Urgent Care Clinic, said people who go for vaccinations too early run the risk of having to revaccinate themselves. Therefore, people shouldn't go earlier than October.

People with a chronic medical condition, anyone over 50, assisted living or nursing home patients, health care workers, anyone surrounded by household contacts at high risk of getting the flu, children6 months to 5 years old and pregnant women, should get the ful shot.

Rhonda Kremer, the nursing supervisor at Prescott Women's Clinic, strongly encourages pregnant women to get a flu shot, saying it won't harm them or the baby.

"It's a pretty safe vaccine," she said.

Because the vaccine is relatively safe, most people can get a shot. However, Embry said the shot serum is made from eggs and anyone allergic to eggs should avoid the vaccine.

"If anyone's had a previous reaction or bad reaction to the shot in the past, for that person, I'd say don't get it," she said, adding that such reactions include rash, swelling and difficulty breathing.

Mazhar said the earliest any child should receive the shot is 6 months old.

In order to find the most common strains of influenza, the Center for Disease Control studies the most common forms of flu in Asia and the Middle East each year, Embry said. After determining the most prominent strains, CDC creates that year's flu vaccine. However, because influenza is a virus and is always changing, Embry said people can still become sick with a new strain or a less common strain they're not protected against.

For those who don't want to deal with needles, Krantz said the vaccine also comes in nasal form. However, unlike the injection, the nasal vaccine uses a toned-down live virus.

Places like Costco, Safeway and Fry's offer vaccinations. People may call those stores for individual schedules.

In addition, people may call Yavapai County Community Health Services at 583-1000 for child flu shots and 442-5613 for adult flu shots.

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