Tillamook Medical Minute: What to Do Before and After Your Flu Shot

August 31, 2023

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Regardless of the many compelling data points I’ve seen nationally, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of getting a flu shot every year across all ages. The flu is an illness that can cause serious complications, especially for young children, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions. Simply put, a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu.

The benefits of getting a flu shot

The flu shot can help you avoid getting the flu altogether. Even if you do get the flu after getting a shot, your symptoms are likely to be milder and shorter-lived. The flu shot can also help prevent serious complications of the flu, such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death.

When to get your flu shot

The flu season typically peaks between December and February, but it can start as early as October. It's important to get your flu shot by the end of October so that your body has time to develop immunity before the flu season starts.

How to prepare for your flu shot

There are a few things you can do to prepare for your flu shot:

  • Get plenty of rest. Being well-rested will help your body fight off infection.
  • Eat a healthy meal. Eating a healthy meal will give you the energy you need to get through your appointment.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help prevent dehydration, which can sometimes be a side effect of the flu shot.
  • Dress comfortably. You may feel a little lightheaded after your shot, so it's important to dress comfortably.

What to expect after your flu shot

After your flu shot, you may experience some mild side effects, such as:

  • Soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Muscle aches

These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days. If you experience any severe side effects, such as difficulty breathing or hives, please seek medical attention immediately.

How to prepare children for shots

If you have a child who is afraid of shots, here are a few tips to help them prepare:

  • Be honest with your child about what is going to happen. Don’t tell them days in advance but let them know a few hours before the appointment.
  • Stay calm and confident. Your child will pick up on your anxiety, so it‘s important to stay calm and positive.
  • Use distraction techniques. Sing a silly song, let them watch a funny video, or give them a small toy to play with.

Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, available from your provider, local urgent care or county health department. The benefits of getting a flu shot far outweigh the risks. I hope these tips help you and your loved ones stay happy and healthy this flu season.

In good health,
Dr. Paul Welch

About the author: Paul Welch, MD, is the Adventist Health Chief Medical Officer. As a board-certified medical provider with decades of experience in both care and leadership, he provides strategies for all clinical practice settings to provide the best experience and outcomes for all patients in the communities that Adventist Health Tillamook serves.