What is Flu ?

Flu is an infection of the nose and throat caused by influenza viruses. It usually causes mild symptoms like cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache and body aches. The infection can become severe and spread to the lungs in people with weak immune system. Flu viruses are most common from December to March.

Why take a Flu Vaccine?

The flu vaccine is available by shot. In two weeks of vaccination, vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body. It reduces the severity of the disease and helps to prevent hospitalization. The vaccine offers protection to your family from the influenza virus which can be enhanced by ensuring other families in your community also get their flu shot.

When is the best time to be vaccinated?

Get your vaccine as soon as it becomes available, ideally by the end of October. Influenza peaks in early winter typically but being immunized 2 weeks prior to an exposure is the best way to be protected.

Who should get vaccinated ?

According to CDC “Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year”. Some people are more likely to develop flu related complications as compared to others. This high risk group should definitely get vaccine every year.

  1. Adults older than 65 years
  2. Pregnant women
  3. Children younger than 5 years.
  4. People who have medical problems like congestive heart failure, blockage in heart arteries, diabetes, COPD, cystic fibrosis etc
    People with weakened immune systems from a disease or other medications
  5. How effective is the vaccine?

The effectiveness of the vaccine can vary from year to year for the different age groups and for people with different risk factors. The effectiveness depends on how good a match is between the inactivated virus in the vaccine and the influenza virus types circulating among us that season. If the match is good, the vaccine is more effective. Even if the match is not good, the antibodies you develop with the vaccine can protect you against the related circulating viral types.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

Several factors can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, including a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. Read more about who should not be vaccinated. Remember to talk to you doctor if you have questions about your eligibility for receiving the vaccine.

Are there any side effects of vaccine ?

Mild side effects such as soreness, headaches, and fever are common side effects of the flu vaccine. But you must still get your flu shot every year to reduce your risk of getting flu which can have severe complications.

I got it last year, do I get the vaccine again this year?

It is recommended to take the flu vaccine every year, as the strain (sub-type) of influenza viruses circulating can vary from year to year. Scientists closely study these to make vaccines with different compositions from year to year based on the strain of influenza virus that is expected to circulate that season.

References:
1. www.cdc.gov
2. Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)

Reviewed by:  Dr. Vidya Sundareshan Springfield, IL, USA

Infectious Disease


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