Flu shot not an option for everyone, despite rampant outbreak

More than 60 people have died from the flu in North Carolina this season, and health care experts are urging people to get vaccinated. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Almost 70 people have died from the flu in North Carolina this season, and health care experts are urging people to get vaccinated.

Medical officials said there could be several reasons the flu is so widespread this year, but they said the best preventative measure you can take is to get a flu shot.

But for many people, that may not be an option.

"There has got to be something else you can do," said Tammy Woods, whose allergies prevent her from getting a flu shot.

Woods said when she took a flu shot nearly 13 years ago, it didn't go too well.

"Woke up the next day with my lymph nodes swollen like the size of a baseball," she said.

Woods said she's allergic to the egg ingredients in the vaccine and the latex packaging it comes in.

"It's scary. It really is," Woods said.

Samantha Lynch, clinical manager at the Family Health Center in Asheville, said, according to the Center for Disease Control, egg allergies shouldn't be a problem.

"They've done continued studies showing that even people with a severe reaction to eggs can still get the flu shot," Lynch said.

She said, if your allergies are extreme, the CDC recommends you stay an extra 30 minutes at the clinic after getting a flu shot to make sure you're OK.

As for the latex allergy, Lynch said with some planning patients should be OK.

If you have a severe reaction to latex, you do not want to get a single-dose vial. The ways those are packaged comes with a syringe latex stopper. So, Lynch recommends taking the multidose vial that doesn't have latex.

But Woods said she doesn't want to take a chance on either of her allergies.

"I don't want to take that risk and put myself in that situation," she said.

Lynch said there is a number of reasons people don't want to get a flu shot, but she believes, overall, it's probably the best option.

"You may get the flu even though you've had the flu shot, but your symptoms can be reduced and even the length of your illness can be reduced if you had your flu shot," she said.

But people who feel like they can’t get vaccinated will rely on preventative measures and a little faith.

"You just hope and pray you don't get the flu," Woods said.

There is an egg-free and latex-free alternative called Flublok, but Woods said she can't find any local place that has it.

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