This year’s flu season has been especially widespread, with many people landing in the hospital due to complications. While the flu has reached epidemic proportions in most states, it is still not too late to protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot.
What Is the Flu?
Formally known as influenza, the flu is a serious viral disease that can lead to deadly complications. The virus is spread when infected people cough, sneeze or talk. Many times, people will also get the flu after touching a tainted surface with their hands and then transmitting the virus to food, their eyes, noses, ears or mouths.
While most people recover from the flu after a couple of weeks, some people can develop life-threatening complications. This is why it is so important to get vaccinated against influenza every single year.
How the Vaccine Helps
The annual flu vaccine includes an inactivated form of the virus, which triggers the immune system to make antibodies that protect against influenza. Each year, the vaccine is redesigned to target the type of flu strain researchers believe will be most prevalent. This is important, since the influenza virus tends to rapidly mutate as it moves through the human population.
Is This Season’s Vaccine Effective?
The 2018 flu season includes an especially troublesome strain of the influenza, which doesn’t respond as well to the flu vaccine. That said, by getting a flu shot, you can reduce your risk of getting sick by 30 percent. While it doesn’t provide 100 percent protection, a flu shot could save your life by keeping you from getting sick or reducing the risk of complications.
How Long Does the Vaccine Take to Work?
It generally takes the body about two weeks to develop antibodies after a flu shot. This is why it’s best to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu virus has had an opportunity to spread. Since flu season can last for months, however, it’s a good idea to get vaccinated now, especially if you have yet to get sick.
Is the Flu Vaccine Safe?
Despite prevalent misinformation about immunizations, the flu shot is safe. The FDA regularly conducts influenza and other vaccine surveillance to ensure the safety and efficacy of each seasonal flu vaccine. In some instances, the flu vaccine may not be appropriate for people with pre-existing medical issues. If you aren’t sure whether an existing health issue might prohibit you from getting vaccinated against the flu, talk to your doctor or contact the medical experts at PhysicianOne Urgent Care.