The Flu Vaccine: To Do or Not To Do?
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 12/7/16 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.
The winter season holds many perks: Beautiful, snowy surroundings, cozying up around the fireplace, and the holidays are just a few.
But along with these wonderful events come nasty viruses and colds.
You can ward off some of these with the flu vaccine.
Preventing problems is particularly important for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
If you’ve been debating whether to take the plunge, here are some insights into the flu vaccine.
Why should you get it?
Consider these statistics:
- 5 to 20% of U.S. residents will get the flu this year.
- 200,000 of those will be hospitalized due to complications of the flu.
- 3,000 to 49,000 die each year – in the U.S. – as a result of the flu.
As you can see, in some cases, contracting influenza can lead to serious problems that can land you in the hospital, and even death.
During the flu season, between 80 and 90 percent of deaths caused by the flu have happened in people who are 65 or older.
But even younger people can experience problems related to the flu, too.
Flu season can start at the beginning of October and last as long as through the month of May.
With the flu vaccine, you can prevent contracting the virus yourself, and void spreading it to others. You’ll also decrease the likelihood of getting sick, missing work and social events, and shelling out money to soothe your symptoms.
Why does it work?
Once you’re injected with the vaccine, it puts the antibodies in your body to work, causing them to develop in as little as two weeks’ time.
It’s these antibodies that hold the key to preventing infection – but only from the viruses found in this particular vaccine.
Vaccine-makers have to predict which viruses will rear their ugly heads during any particular flu season, based on research, in order to manufacture the seasonal flu vaccine.
A traditional flu vaccine will protect you against three viruses: Influenza A (H1N1) which was updated for the 2017-2018 flu season, influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B. This is called a trivalent flu vaccine.
It’s also possible to get a quadrivalent flu vaccine, which is comprised of an additional influenza B virus.
Choosing your vaccine
Talk to your doctor about these flu vaccine injection options:
- A standard-dose trivalent shot recommended for adults under the age of 65.
- A high-dose trivalent shot, for individuals over 65.
- A recombinant vaccine that is egg-free, for adults under 65.
- A trivalent flu vaccine that contains a component to boost your immune system, for individuals over the age of 65.
Medical experts do not advise receiving the flu vaccine via nasal injection.
Who should get the vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine every year for:
- Anyone 6 months or older. Options include the inactivated influenza vaccine or the recombinant influenza vaccine.
- Individuals who have a high risk of developing serious complications from contracting the flu, such as people with chronic pulmonary or cardiovascular disease.
- Pregnant women.
- Nursing home or chronic-care facility residents.
- Healthcare workers.
- Individuals living with young children or adults over the age of 50.
What to do next
It’s best to get the flu vaccine as early as you can. The month of October is a good rule of thumb. However, you can still get the flu vaccine in January, when viruses are circulating.
Keep in mind, the longer you wait, the more chance you’ll have of getting the flu.
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Have you received your flu shot for this year?