The flu can be an extremely serious illness, particularly in young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions. The flu shot (or influenza vaccine) is considered to be the best tool to defend yourself and your family from the complications of the flu.
Influenza, commonly referred as the “flu,” is a highly contagious respiratory infection transmitted by the influenza virus. Flu outbreaks happen quite frequently in winter and early spring every year. Over time, as the influenza virus change, one can’t remain immune for very long and can contract the flu repeatedly. This is the reason why many people, of all ages across the world, get sick with the flu in a span of a few months.
The flu virus impacts your body by spreading through your respiratory tract. It propagates from person to person by means of respiratory secretions and normally spans through big groups of people who come in close physical contact. Flu symptoms generally include high fever, cough, severe body aches, and many other discomforts.
What is a Flu Shot?
Because influenza viruses keep changing, mostly on a yearly basis, people become non- resistant in a short period of time. Flu shots (or vaccines) are normally administered once a year between October and mid-November. These shots offer protection all through the flu season.
The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine, containing slain influenza virus which is administered to your muscles or skin. The slain virus then begins to affect your immune system, so that the latter develops the antibodies to fight off the influenza virus. Influenza vaccines are of the 2 following types:
- Trivalent vaccine
- Quadrivalent vaccine
Who Should Get the Flu Shot?
Various flu shots are advisable for people of diverse ages, but there are flu shots that are recommended for use in people across all age groups. Some people are at much higher risk of some serious diseases that may arise out of the complexities of the flu, than others.
These are the groups that should ensure to get vaccinated each year:
- Children, particularly aged 6 months to 5 years.
- Pregnant women.
- Adult people in the age group of 65 and older.
- People with certain health situations.
- People living in nursing homes or some long-term care facilities.
- Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
- Travelers and people dwelling abroad.
Who Shouldn’t Get the Flu Shot?
The following people shouldn’t get a flu vaccine:
- Children less than 6 months.
- People with serious, lethal allergies to the flu vaccine.
- People allergic to any flu shot ingredients like gelatin, antibiotics or egg.
- People with a medical history of the Guillain-Barré syndrome(also called GBS).
What are the Side Effects of the Flu Shot?
There are several side effects that may be related to a flu shot injection or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are usually mild and short-lived, especially in comparison to a bad case of flu.
Normally, soreness, redness, and/or mild swelling from the shot may occur accompanied by a mild fever or body aches.
Some of the symptoms of a rare allergic reaction include problems with breathing, hives, wheezing, dull skin, an increased heart rate, and dizziness.
People prone to egg allergy may experience allergic reaction due to the flu shot.
Like other injections, the flu shot can sometimes cause fainting in some individuals.
What are the Advantages of Flu Vaccination?
Here are some of the reasons to opt for a flu vaccine each year:
Flu vaccination prevents you from getting ill with flu that can lead to severe illness and even death.
Flu vaccination can decrease the risk of flu-related hospitalization, especially among children and seniors.
Flu vaccination is an essential preventive means for people suffering from chronic health conditions.
Vaccination not only helps to protect pregnant women, during and after their term but also safeguard a baby upon its birth, from flu.
What Should Parents Know About the Flu Vaccine?
- Flu shots can be administered to children aged 6 months and above.
- Ensure that you and your child, get the flu shot at the earliest.
- The child may develop soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, along with a low-grade fever, or muscle aches.
- Remember that for a child to be totally protected from the flu after vaccination, it takes up to two weeks of time.
- You can’t acquire the flu from the flu shot.
- The nasal spray version is no longer in use.
- Discuss your questions related to flu protection, with your child’s physician.
What is the Importance of Flu Shot in Pregnancy?
The flu-related illness can be more critical when you’re pregnant. If you are a mom-to-be, the flu may persist for thrice longer than usual, and there may be a greater risk for you, of acquiring complications like pneumonia, ultimately leading to hospitalization. Serious flu increases your chances of preterm labor and delivery.
You should get a flu shot, as it’s the best means to prevent this illness and protect both you and your baby, from acquiring the flu for 6 months post your child delivery. This is particularly crucial because the flu shot is not considered safe for babies less than 6 months of age.
How Effective are Seasonal and Pandemic Flu Vaccines?
Flu vaccine effectiveness is evaluated by the quality of the vaccine to produce an immune response (determined by a blood test called a hemagglutination-inhibition assay). This holds true for both seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines. A titer of 1:40 is regarded as protective after 21 days of vaccination. Vaccine efficiency may also differ from person to person, due to the possibility of diverse titer values for different persons, regardless of the fact that all the given vaccine, belong to the same batch.
Newport Family Medicine, located in Newport Beach, CA, offers full-service family practice from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood to maturity. We provide comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.