Flu season is upon us; KPCC's Steve Julian gets his own shot

Steve Julian after receiving a flu shot.
Steve Julian after receiving a flu shot.
Bianca Ramirez

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CVS pharmacist Jill Kolin says flu season is upon us. Kolin spoke with KPCC's Steve Julian Wednesday and gave him his own flu shot.

The virus is already in full swing, she said. "I recommend getting it as soon as the flu vaccine is available."

The vaccine can take nearly two weeks to be effective, said Kolin. Most injectable flu vaccines are made from a version of the virus that's already been killed, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Introducing the killed virus into the humane immune system prompts the body to build antibodies to fight off the live version of the virus.

Kolin said the two week lag from when a person gets the shot to when they are immune means the sooner a vaccine is delivered, the better.

Kolin says not to worry about actually contracting the virus from the vaccine. Side effects are possible, she said, but usually amount to achey muscles — nothing in comparison to the actual flu.

The vaccine is recommended for anyone over the age of six months, especially those over 65 years old. The CDC also advises that pregnant woman, people with chronic medical conditions and health workers be vaccinated. The CDC cautions that people allergic to eggs or who have had other serious illnesses consult their doctors before receiving the vaccine.

Already contracting the virus doesn't make a person immune, said Kolin. "You can contract different strains of it. This vaccine definitely has three strains in it that it will protect you against." Many insurance providers now cover the flu vaccine at no additional charge, said Kolin, meaning now is as good of a time to get immunized as any.

Despite squirming in his chair, Julian was convinced. He rolled up his sleeve, and tried to laugh off his nerves. "Boy, that needle looks big," he said.

Then he braced himself for the pain before exclaiming in disbelief, "Are you done? That was it?!"

"That was it!" replied Kolin.