It is the flu season again and time to decide if a flu shot is in your future. According to the CDC flu vaccines are available from the beginning of September until early spring, with flu outbreaks starting as early as October and peaking in January. The following are the guidelines of who should receive the flu vaccine each year as specified by ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices):

1. "Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday 
2. Pregnant women
3. People 50 years of age and older 
4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

a. Health care workers.
b. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu.
c. Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)" -obtained from the CDC website.

Just as there is a list of who "should" receive the flu vaccine there are groups of people who should speak with their doctor before deciding if a flu shot is right. These groups include people allergic to chicken egg, people who have had severe reactions to previous flu vaccines, including developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, children less than 6 months of age and people who are currently sick with moderate to severe illness. If you have any concerns, worries or questions about if a flu shot it right for you, take time to ask your doctor for advice.

If you choose to get a flu shot, which contains inactivated viruses, it is also good to know what some of the possible side effects might be. They include but are not limited to: soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of injection, fever and aches. You have a choice either to get the flu shot or not. And just because you fit the guidelines of who should receive the vaccine, does not mean you have to get the shot. It is always best to talk with your doctor regarding your medical condition / history and your need for a flu shot.