Fighting the Flu: What is Different this Year

The flu is a nasty business. Chills, fever, body ache are the least of it. You could be out of work or school for a week or two. The complications can kill you.

So far, 1.4 million Americans have received this year's flu shot. For 6 out of 10 people, the only side effect will be a slightly sore arm.

On the other hand, roughly one in five will suffer a low grade fever and what doctors call "malaise."

"Feeling a little crappy, a little tired, having lower energy than usual," explained Dr. Andy Miller, an infectious disease specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

"When I had my flu shot I was extremely tired, nauseous, I had a headache and my back hurt," said 22-year-old Stephanie Molony of the Bronx.

How long did this last we wanted to know. "A week or longer," said Stephanie.

"Such symptoms usually last 24 to 48 hours, said Dr. Miller. He pointed out everyone is different, just as every year the flu shot is slightly different.

This year the vaccine contains a swine flu H1N1 component and two strains of flu virus expected to be most prevalent.

Each year both the FDA and CDC make a combined effort to track any adverse effects of flu vcaccine.

But with the exception of extreme reactions, side effects tend to be under reported as people are more likely to complain to each other and not necessarily to their doctor.

"I felt like I was getting a head cold and was all stuffy," said one woman.

Indeed, fear of side effects keeps many from being immunized each year.

"Take acetaminophen for pain and fever," recommended Dr. Miller. "Malaise" won't be as bad as 10 days of severe flu," he added.

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