I hate getting the flu shot. It feels like someone punched me in the arm. Two days later and my left arm is still a little tender.

Nevertheless, I suggest you don’t play around and skip the flu shot, and especially not this year, when the Centers for Disease Control are predicting a particularly nasty strain of the influenza infection.

So yeah, getting your flu shot should be chief among the healthy lifestyle choices, especially if you workout in gyms, work in an office, hospitals, or, well, are around people in general.

When it comes to public spaces, gyms are just a petri dish of germs. Yes, gyms have spray bottles with disinfectant solutions, but can we be sure these solutions are killing ALL the germs? I think not.

Also, young children, the elderly, and people with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are also at increased risks for getting the flu and complications.

Fortunately in Philadelphia, flu shots are available to all eligible residents. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health Immunization Program provides citywide flu shots for adults 19 through 64 years of age, who do not have health insurance, starting in October. To find a Community Health Center near you, contact the Philadelphia Immunization Program at www.vaccines@phila.gov or call 215-685-6784.

The Flu: It’s Not the Common Cold

Many people confuse the common cold with the flu but there are differences. Common symptoms of the flu may include:

  • Fever (generally high, over 102 degrees)
  • Headache
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle aches (especially back, arms and legs)
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills and sweats
  • Loss of appetite

The common cold, on the other hand, generally has milder symptoms that develop slowly and may include:

  • Fever
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue 

Don’t spread germs

In addition to getting the flu shot. you should follow your mother’s advice and cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands. That’s right, mom was right again!

Stay at home when you are sick

You do the entire office a disservice when you come to work or school sick. Don’t infect others. Stay at home and avoid close contact with others when you are sick. You can prevent others from getting sick by staying home.

Establish healthy habits

Maintain a healthy nutritious diet, exercise daily, drink plenty of water, manage stress and get adequate rest.

Who needs to be vaccinated?

The following groups are at high risk for serious flu complications and should be vaccinated every year:

  • Children aged 6 months up to age 19
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: health care workers, day care workers, and hospital employees.

Who should not be vaccinated?

According to the CDC, certain people should not get the flu vaccine. Be sure to check with your doctor before getting the flu shot, if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Children under 6 months of age
  • A severe allergy to chicken or eggs
  • A previous bad reaction to the vaccine 
  • A previous bout of Guillian-Barre syndrome
  • If you are recovering from illness

Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today. Now is the time to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu.