The flu vaccine greatly reduces the risk of getting or spreading the flu. That’s the short answer.

Influenza, aka “the flu,” is not a simple illness. The symptoms typically include fever, cough, muscle aches, chills and fatigue. It may seem to be of less concern than what promoters claim, but keep in mind that there is a range of severity of each of those symptoms. Many of these symptoms occur with an uncomplicated upper respiratory illness or ‘just a cold.’ However true influenza has some not-so-subtle differences. A cold may come on slowly over several days of minor, annoying symptoms. The flu comes on rapidly, to the extent that most of those who have it can state firmly the date and time of the onset of symptoms, often described as “I was feeling perfectly fine until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday!”

The best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu vaccine. The flu shot not only helps you avoid the flu, it also helps prevent the spread of flu from person to person. Even though you might not be at high risk of complications from flu, getting the shot lowers your risk of spreading the flu virus to people who are at high risk. Those at greater risk of complications include children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65 and those people who have chronic illnesses.

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd advocates for best health possible by sponsoring flu shots, given by the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Association. This year’s flu shot opportunity will be on Sunday September 16 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon. The cost is $38, payable by cash or check; the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Association will submit insurance claims so be prepared to pay whatever co-pay might be required by your insurance company. Credit card payments cannot be accepted. 

Side effects of a flu shot might include mild soreness or redness at the injection site; that should disappear within a day or two. Serious side effects are extremely rare. Some individuals may develop flu symptoms after having the vaccine, however, the vaccine is made from “killed viruses” that do not cause influenza. It is also noted that for the first one – two weeks after receiving the vaccine, a person might feel achy and tired as the body ramps up its immunity,
as stimulated by the vaccine.

Questions about the vaccine should be asked of your physician. For general information, contact Dorothy Ellerbroek, parish nurse, at