Avera Medical Minute: High-dose flu vaccine

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Corson Life is not slowing down for Al Kundert of Pierre. "We go to the 'Y' every day for exercises, we play cards, card parties, we go to dances, and we try to be very active and I'd hate to stay in the house all day because I didn't want to get sick," said Kundert.

When the VA offered him a flu shot this year, he had no hesitation. "I have had the flu and I realize how important immunization is and I don't like to get sick," said Kundert.

Avera Family Medicine Physician Dr. Joseph Swedzinski says the flu shot can protect you from severe symptoms. "Then when you're exposed to this virus, bacteria, what have you, your body is able to mount the response to beat the infection before it causes a big problem," said Dr. Swedzinski.

The high-dose influenza vaccine provides more of the actual antigen or the actual affective component of the vaccine. It is designed for a specific age group, age 65 and older. "The reason we do that is because it incentivizes the body or encourages the body to form that strong immune response that we need, in order to get good protection," said Dr. Swedzinski.

Once you get the flu shot, it can take up to two weeks to develop immunity, and reactions are typically mild.

"It's normal to be a little bit achy, after your shot. Your arm is going to hurt a little bit." But it certainly beats the alternative. "For anyone who's really been sick with the real deal, for a week with high fever, stuck on the couch, it's a small sacrifice to make," said Dr. Swedzinski.

Getting the shot now offers protection through the rest of the flu season. "It's not too late to get your flu shot now. We continue giving flu shots well through the winter and into the early spring," said Dr. Swedzinski.

If you do get the flu, it's best to keep your germs to yourself. "It's a good reason to miss work, so you don't get your co-workers, others you interact with, you don't want to get them sick. Frequent hand washing, that sort of thing," said Dr. Swedzinski. "If you're out and about in the community, hand washing is about the best bet you have,"

The flu shot is recommended for those 65 and older, pregnant women, children under five, and those with certain illnesses such as COPD and other lung conditions.