The flu vaccine is an important part of staying healthy during the winter months. It can help protect you from the flu virus and keep you from getting sick. But what is in the flu vaccine? And how does it work? This blog post will answer all of your questions about the flu vaccine. Stay healthy this winter by getting vaccinated against the flu!
- Influenza Virus
- Symptoms of Flu
- Spreading Flu
- What is in the flu vaccine, and how does it work
- Who should get the flu vaccine and why
- How to get the flu vaccine
- Side effects of the flu vaccine
- What to do if you get sick after getting the flu vaccine
Influenza (also called the flu) is a virus that can cause a serious infection. It can affect your nose, throat, and lungs. It’s not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. The flu is a common cause of death in the United States.
For most people, the flu illness resolves on its own. But sometimes, influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:
- Young children under age 5, and especially those under six months
- Adults older than age 65
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after giving birth
- People with weakened immune systems
- Native Americans
- People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes
- People who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
Though the annual influenza vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it’s still your best defense against the flu.
Symptoms of Flu
The flu is a serious virus that can lead to complications, such as pneumonia. There are also some common flu symptoms that you should be aware of.
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, chills, body aches, headache, and fatigue. You may also have a dry cough, nasal congestion, throat pain, eye discomfort, shortness of breath. Children can also experience vomiting and diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away.
Influenza viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object — such as a telephone or computer keyboard — and then transfer them to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
People with the virus are likely contagious from about a day before symptoms appear until about five days after they start. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a slightly longer time.
Influenza viruses are constantly changing, with new strains appearing regularly. If you’ve had influenza before, your body has already made antibodies to fight that specific strain of the virus. If future influenza viruses are similar to those you’ve encountered before, either by having the disease or getting vaccinated, those antibodies may prevent infection or lessen its severity. But antibody levels may decline over time.
Also, antibodies against influenza viruses you’ve encountered in the past may not protect you from new influenza strains that can be very different viruses from what you had before. This is where getting your flu shot comes in handy.
What is in the flu vaccine, and how does it work?
The flu vaccine is a vaccine that helps protect people from the influenza virus. The vaccine helps protect people from three types of influenza viruses: A, B, and C. It is made up of killed or weakened viruses, which help the body build immunity to the virus. The vaccine is given as an injection but also as a nasal spray.
The vaccine protects you from the flu by giving you antibodies to the flu virus. These antibodies allow your body to fight the virus if you are exposed. Your immune system makes antibodies that help protect you from infection with viruses like the flu. Antibodies are proteins that recognize and destroy foreign substances, called antigens. A vaccine can prompt your body to produce antibodies against a specific antigen, but it takes about two weeks for your body to make them.
The flu vaccine is updated yearly because the influenza virus can change from year to year. During this time, scientists try to predict what flu strains will be most common during the upcoming flu season. In February, a panel of experts will meet and choose what strains should be included in the new vaccine.
Who should get the flu vaccine and why?
The influenza vaccine is recommended for people at risk of getting the flu, such as pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions. The vaccine is also recommended for people who work with or care for people at high risk for flu complications.
Pregnant women should get the seasonal flu shot because pregnant women are more likely to get sick from the flu and experience complications from the virus, such as pneumonia. The vaccine can help protect both the mother and her baby.
People with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, or heart disease should also get the flu vaccine. These conditions can make it harder for people to fight infection if they get the flu.
People who work with or care for people at high risk for flu complications, such as the elderly or children younger than five years old, should get the vaccine. This is because they are more likely to end up in the hospital if they get the flu.
People who live with anyone at high risk for serious complications from the flu should also get a flu shot each year.
Also, people can get the nasal spray flu vaccine, which is just as good as the injected vaccine. The side effects are milder than what you might have with an injection. After getting the nasal spray flu vaccination, some people may have a runny nose or sore throat.
Who should not get vaccinated?
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to the influenza vaccines in the past should not get another shot. Anyone who has had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting vaccinated probably does not need another influenza vaccination for this year.
Some people give children younger than nine years old parts of what they are supposed to get in a whole dose, which the doctor advises. The first dose primes the immune system, while the second dose actually provides immunity. Because of similarities between flu shots from year to year, only one dose is needed each consecutive year after that.
People who are sick with something more serious than the common cold may postpone getting their flu shots until they feel better.
How to get the flu vaccine
There are a few ways to get flu vaccines. You can get it as an injection (shot) or you can get it as a nasal spray.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a vaccine each year. Flu season usually starts in October and lasts until March, so it’s important to get your vaccine as soon as possible.
Side effects of the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is very safe and has few side effects. According to the Centers for disease control and prevention, some people may have a mild reaction to the vaccine, such as headaches, fever, or muscle aches. These symptoms usually go away within a few days.
If your known discomfort after your flu shot lingers for more than a week, it may be a sign of a new infection. Go see your doctor as soon as possible.
What to do if you get sick after getting the flu vaccine
If you get sick after getting the live attenuated influenza vaccine, it may be because you are already infected with the flu virus. The vaccine cannot protect you from the virus if you are already infected. If you think you have the flu, call your doctor and ask for advice.
The seasonal flu vaccine is important in protecting yourself and your loved ones from the flu. It’s not too late to get vaccinated, so head to your nearest clinic or pharmacy and get your shot today. And don’t forget to tell your friends and family about the importance of getting a flu vaccine – the more vaccinated people, the better chance we have of preventing a major outbreak. Have you had your flu vaccine yet? Leave us a comment and let us know how you feel about it.
Flu Symptoms & Complications
Cold, Flu, and Cough