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Where are several places I can get a flu shot? How much should this cost? When is the right time to get such a shot? Thank you for your help.
Flu shots are available at most of the "Western" clinics. The cost may vary - best to call ahead. The right time to get the shot is before the flu season starts but after the "latest" vaccine has been manufactured and distributed. This is not quite straightforward to calculate (see below). The vaccine is usually recommended for only those people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection (e.g. those over 60 or 65 in some countries) and for people of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lung or kidneys, diabetes, taking immunosuppressive drugs or with immunosuppressive diseases). Other high-risk groups include women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the influenza season, and children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection. This list is not exhaustive and you should see your doctor to determine your risk status - because the recommendations also vary by country of origin. Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season. Because the vaccine strains must be "chosen" nearly a year before the influenza season (to allow time for manufacture), and because influenza viruses change over time, sometimes changes occur in the circulating strains between the time vaccine strains are chosen and the next influenza season is over in other words the vaccine is fighting last year's strain. These changes sometimes reduce the ability of the vaccine-induced antibody to protect against the newly changed virus, so it's not as effective we could wish. Vaccine effectiveness also varies from one person to another, but the vaccine is still likely to lessen the severity of the illness and to prevent complications. The best time for vaccination is before or starting during September, to provide protection starting from October / November. It takes about 10-14 days after vaccination for antibodies to develop to a level where they will be protective against influenza. Best regards
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