Things You Should Know About the Flu Vaccine
Contrary to common opinion, influenza is a serious infection that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death. Because each season usually presents a slightly different strain of the virus, its impact can vary. Likewise, there’s no way to predict how an individual’s body will respond to the disease. For these reasons, annual fatality statistics can vary from only thousands to tens of thousands. With this in mind, it’s important to get vaccinated to protect yourself and those around you from getting infected.
Flu Vaccine Facts
Flu vaccines introduced a dead or weakened form of the influenza virus into the body, prompting it to develop antibodies that protect against the specific strain of the virus within the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine is developed to protect against the strain of flu virus that is most likely to be prevalent during the upcoming season. You can also get traditional flu vaccines, which protect against three specific flu viruses: an influenza B virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza A (H1N1) virus. In addition, there are vaccines that also protect against the aforementioned three viruses and an additional B virus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the shot safe?
A: Yes. Despite many misleading reports, the influenza vaccine is safe for the vast majority of people. Countless studies have shown no link between flu vaccines and long-term side-effects.
Q: Who should get a shot?
A: Anyone over 6 months of age should get vaccinated.
Q: Who should not get a flu shot?
A: People who have severe, life-threatening allergies to eggs or other vaccine ingredients. Certain flu shots also have age indications. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.
Q: Is there an alternative to the flu shot?
A: Yes. Nasal inhalants can be used in place of a shot; however, these may not be appropriate for some people. Talk to your doctor to find out if this is a good option for you.
Q: I got vaccinated but still go the flu. Why?
A: There are two potential reasons for this. First, it can take up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to develop enough antibodies to protect against the flu. Likewise, because the influenza vaccine is developed to protect against the most common strains of the virus, it doesn’t always protect against less common strains, which could still make you sick.
Q: Can the vaccine give me the flu?
A: No. Vaccinations are made with inactivated forms of the virus, which cannot cause an infection.
Q: Are there side-effects?
A: Most people experience no side-effects; however, some experience soreness, redness, a low-grade fever or aches. Very rarely, serious problems can result from unknown allergies. In these cases, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.