There are a lot of opinions out there regarding the flu shot, and each person has to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family when it comes to being vaccinated. For some people it is more than a yes or no question when it comes to getting the flu vaccine, so here is a in-depth report on the shot that offers information in layman terms. Multiple health care professionals were interviewed for this post, and a lot of online research (from reputable sources) was conducted.

The annual flu shot vaccination is combating the seasonal flu, or more correctly an influenza virus, as opposed to the stomach flu, which can cause vomiting or diarrhea.

Sarah Pearman, a nurse practitioner, explains the difference: “The flu can be used as an all-inclusive term, however the stomach flu (or gastroenteritis) and the seasonal flu (influenza) are not the same. The stomach flu can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms can range from nausea, vomiting, fever, stomach ache, and diarrhea. The seasonal flu is caused by a virus. The most common symptoms are fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and cough.”

First, we’ll start with the update.

Why no flu mist in 2017?

Many parents enjoyed the fact that the flu mist didn’t require the pain of the shot, but in 2016, we learned that the mist was no longer available. NBC News states, “The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cites one study that found FluMist only reduced the risk of serious influenza by 3 percent last year.” Those that produce the FluMist disagree; however, the break from the mist clears up confusion about whether or not the mist or shot is better. No matter your preference, the shot is now the only vaccine option.

Who should get vaccinated for the flu?

The flu vaccination is available for almost everyone. There are certain groups that the CDC recommends should definitely receive the vaccine in October or November. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for ‘universal’ flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.”

Women who are pregnant, and people that have extreme complications when they get the flu should definitely seek out the vaccine. The CDC and many health care professionals view the vaccine this way: If more people get protected by the flu shot, fewer people should get the flu.

There are a group of people who should contact their doctor before they get the vaccine. People who have any allergies to eggs or any other ingredients in the vaccine should contact their primary physicians before getting vaccinated. In addition, the CDC also recommends, “If you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS), talk to your doctor about your GBS history.” In addition, those who aren’t feeling well at the time of their scheduled vaccination should wait until the illness passes.

Finally, there are people who should absolutely not get the vaccine. Children six months and younger should not be vaccinated. No matter what, the CDC recommends that everyone talk to their physician before getting the flu shot. If you’ve never had a problem with the flu shot, you should be fine.

What is in the shot?

The annual flu shot contains strains of the flu virus that health care professionals believe will hit hardest during that season of the flu.

According to the CDC, “Flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine composition is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick, the extent to which those viruses are spreading, and how well the previous season’s vaccine protects against those viruses.”

Experts unfortunately do not always get the strains 100 percent correct. Does everyone remember the Winter of 2014/2015? It was when the flu hit very hard because the strains for the then available flu shot did not exactly match a spreading strain that had mutated. Last year’s flu shot had two different types of seasonal flu vaccines, explained Sarah the nurse practitioner. She said they are known as “the trivalent and the quadravalent which protects against three or four influenza viruses respectively.”

According to Emily Clayton, a public health nurse, “There are hundreds of strains of influenza including strains of A, B, C and D. Influenza C is generally not severe and Influenza D primarily affects cattle and is not known to cause illness in humans. Each year the vaccination is reviewed and updated to include the most common circulating strains.”

That is a lot of information on a tiny little syringe, but it is information worth knowing when a person is trying to keep their family and household safe during flu season.

This article was originally published here.