ATLANTA - For Walt Murray it's a $15 fall ritual. As soon as the flu vaccine arrives in metro Atlanta, Murray is usually first in line.
We caught up with him at MedPost Urgent Care in Alpharetta. Murray was getting the traditional flu shot. He doesn't mind the tiny pinch.
Murray says, "It's absolutely worth it. You figure 3-4 days out of work versus 15 minutes to get a shot and move on, it's a great deal. Have you ever had the flu before? I did as a kid. And what do you remember about it? It was a nightmare. I definitely don't want it again."
And Medpost's Dr. William Dixon says a little stick now can save you a world of hurt this winter.
Dixon says most of us will get through the flu fine, but it can strike fast and hit hard, with a fever that can feel like a sucker punch. Dr. Dixon says, "With the fever response, you're going to feel really ill. It's going to a lot of times, incapacitate you... Where you can't really carry on your work and obligations."
Flu can be especially risky if you - or someone in your family has an underlying health condition like asthma or emphysema - for very young children and seniors - and for pregnant women.
Common symptoms include sudden fever, sore throat, cough and congestion. Dr. Dixon says, "If you don't get into complications, it's usually going to go away within a week. But those few days you're going to be counting every minute."
So Dixon says if you can, get vaccinated. This year you've got 4 choices.
A traditional flu shot - into the muscle like Walt is getting.
The nasal spray vaccine.
A high-dose vaccine for seniors 65 and older.
And a new "intradermal" flu vaccine - with a tiny needle that is 90% smaller than the typical flu shot needle. Instead of being injected into the muscle, it's injected into the skin. And it uses 40% less antigen (which triggers the protective response) than the traditional vaccine.
So, what's the right vaccine for you?
Dr. Dixon says, "The most effective one for you, and it should be tailor-made - is to ask your health care provider what is the best vaccine for you."