Flu Vaccine: Get Immunized against Influenza
Everything You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine
Every year the flu virus infects millions of people around the world. Sometimes it results in hospitalizations and deaths too. Before the onset of flu season, flu vaccination must be taken to prevent influenza. In this article, you will learn about the importance of vaccinating against the flu, how it works, the different types of vaccines available, and why it is recommended for people of all age groups.
Understanding Influenza and its Impact
During the flu outbreak, there is direct stress on the healthcare industry, hospitals, and clinics. The flu impacts the health of employees, because of which they are unable to work in offices. This results in a loss of productivity which in turn affects the economy.
What is Influenza?
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system. It is highly contagious and can quickly spread from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets. This can spread while talking, coughing or sneezing. More information on influenza can be found here.
The Importance of Taking Influenza Seriously:
Influenza is a highly contagious disease that can spread through the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. It can also spread by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
Hence, it is vital to take influenza seriously to avoid serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections. Regularly disinfect the frequently touched surfaces around you using Dettol disinfectant liquid and wash your hands with Dettol bar soap to avoid transmission of the flu virus.
The Economic Impact of Influenza
The spread of influenza can quickly impact a considerable portion of the population. In addition to medical expenses, the loss of productivity is an additional burden on the economy.
The economic impact of the flu can be particularly significant in specific industries, such as healthcare and education, where the risk of transmission is higher. Hence, it becomes imperative to prevent the spread of the flu by vaccinating more and more people.
The Effectiveness of the Flu Vaccine
Every year a new flu vaccine is administered based on the circulating strains of the virus. Hence, its effectiveness varies yearly depending on several factors, including the age and health of the person and how well the vaccine matches the circulating strains of the virus.
A flu vaccine does not necessarily provide 100% protection against the flu because the circulating strains of the virus may differ from the one that was predicted. Recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by almost 40% to 60%. However, even if the vaccinated person gets flu, the vaccine will reduce the severity of the infection and prevent the risk of complications. So, it is recommended that everyone above six months of age should get a flu shot every year.
The Importance of Annual Vaccination
There are several benefits of the annual flu vaccination, and they are as follows:
- An annual flu shot significantly reduces the risk of getting the flu.
- Even if you get the flu after being vaccinated, you have much lesser risk of complications like pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Vaccination is essential for the high-risk groups (more vulnerable to get flu infections). The high-risk group include young children, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions.
- Vaccination during pregnancy protects the mother and the foetus developing in the mother's womb.
- When more and more people are vaccinated, the virus is less likely to spread in the community. This is particularly beneficial for people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons.
How the Flu Vaccine Works
The flu jab contains harmless pieces of the influenza virus injected into the body. The immune system identifies these pieces of the virus as a foreign body and starts acting against it. In this process, antibodies are formed that provide immunity against the flu.
These antibodies can recognize and attack the virus if the person is exposed to it in the future. After vaccination, it usually takes about two weeks for the body to produce enough antibodies to fight against the flu. Hence, getting a flu vaccine before flu season starts in December is recommended.
The World Health Organization monitors the flu virus strains circulating worldwide every year and recommends the vaccine's composition. Because of the varying vaccination composition, it is recommended to get a flu vaccination before the season of flu starts.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine
It is recommended that everyone above six months of age should get a flu vaccination every year. Some people are more susceptible to being infected by the flu than others. Also, the flu season varies from country to country. So, if you travel to a country during the flu season, get a flu shot.
High-Risk Groups for the Flu Vaccine:
Children and the Flu Vaccine
Children under the age of five, especially those under the age of two, are at a higher risk of flu infection. They may develop complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening chronic medical conditions, such as asthma. Flu vaccination in the right season protects children and prevents the spread of the flu to other vulnerable populations, such as elderly adults and those with weak immune systems.
Pregnant Women and the Flu Vaccine
A flu vaccine during pregnancy is a safe and effective way to protect the mother and the developing foetus from the flu and its potential complications. Pregnant women should talk to their healthcare provider and plan flu vaccination before the flu season.
Senior citizens and the Flu Vaccine
Flu vaccination is vital for senior citizens as they are at a higher risk of serious flu-related complications such as hospitalization and death. Their immune system weakens with age, and hence, it is advised that senior citizens should get the flu vaccine before flu season starts.
In addition to these, the following are also high-risk groups and should take flu shots every year:
- People with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS
- People who are immunocompromised, i.e. people with autoimmune diseases or those with a weak immunity
- Health care workers
- Caretakers of people who are suffering from flu
However, some people should not get the flu vaccine or talk to their doctor before getting vaccinated, such as those with severe allergies to any vaccine component and those who have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine.
Different Types of Flu Vaccines
There are several different types of flu vaccine available:
- Inactivated flu vaccine (IIV):This is the most common type of flu vaccine made from killed flu viruses. This type of flu vaccination is administered in the muscle.
- Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV): This vaccine is made from weakened live flu viruses and is administered as a nasal spray. It is only recommended for healthy people aged 2-49 years who are not pregnant.
- High-dose flu vaccine:This inactivated flu vaccine is specifically designed for people aged 65 years and older. It contains a higher antigen dose to create a more robust immune response.
- Adjuvanted flu vaccine: This inactivated flu vaccine contains an ingredient called an adjuvant, intended to enhance the immune response. It is also designed for people aged 65 years and older.
- Recombinant flu vaccine (RIV):This inactivated flu vaccine is made without using live flu viruses. Instead, it is made using recombinant DNA technology to produce a specific flu protein. It is administered as a shot in the muscle.
The type of flu vaccine recommended for an individual can depend on age, health status, and preferences. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine which flu vaccine is appropriate
Common Side Effects and Risks of the Flu Vaccine
A flu shot is recommended for everyone above six months of age; it is pretty safe. It usually has no side effects; even if it does, they are mild. Common side effects of the flu vaccine can include:
- Redness or swelling at the injection site
- Muscle aches
- Fever or chills
These side effects usually go away on their own within a few days.
Serious Side Effects of the Flu Vaccine
Severe side effects of the flu vaccine are infrequent, but if you observe one of the following severe reactions, consult a doctor immediately.
- An allergic reaction
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of the face or throat
- Fast heartbeat
- Dizziness or weakness
Who Should Not Get the Flu Shot?
As discussed above, a flu shot is relatively safe, but there are few for whom a flu shot is not recommended. In such cases, you must consult a doctor before getting vaccinated:
- Infants younger than six months of age:The flu vaccine is not approved for infants younger than six months.
- People who had an allergy to any component of the previous flu vaccine:If you have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine or any of its components in the past, you should avoid getting vaccinated against influenza.
- Immunocompromised people:People with weak immunity should consult a doctor before taking a flu vaccine.
The Role of the Flu Vaccine in Preventing Illness and Death
The Importance of Herd Immunity
A herd is a group of people that live together. And when most people in a community develop immunity against a particular disease, it is called herd immunity. It is essential in case of flu because flu is highly contagious. When a significant portion of the population is immune to the flu, the virus has a more challenging time finding new hosts to spread infection. Herd immunity slows down the spread of the disease and protects vulnerable populations. Vaccination is the most effective way to achieve herd immunity against the flu, and it is vital to vaccinate more and more people before every flu season.
The Effect of the Flu Vaccine on Hospitalizations and Deaths
The flu vaccine is an effective way to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from influenza. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, it can significantly reduce the severity of illness and lower the risk of complications.
The Role of the Flu Vaccine in Protecting Vulnerable Populations
Vulnerable populations include young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. These populations are at higher risk of developing severe complications from the flu, including pneumonia and worsening of underlying health conditions.
Overall, the flu vaccine is crucial in protecting vulnerable populations from the flu and its complications. Just remember to take the flu vaccine before the flu season peaks.
Importance of getting the flu vaccine
More and more people in the community should get a flu vaccination to prevent the severity of influenza. It is essential to encourage vaccination to promote a healthier community. This can be done by spreading awareness about the benefits of immunisation and addressing common misconceptions or concerns. Additionally, healthcare providers and community organizations can provide easy access to vaccines and make it convenient for individuals to get vaccinated.
We can all do our part to promote vaccination and protect our community. By getting vaccinated ourselves and encouraging others to do the same, we can help create a safer and healthier environment for everyone.