Winter holidays are fun, but with it comes the influenza virus. Flu is highly contagious, infecting a large community in a short period.
We may feel flu is a small problem; however, it can lead to a high number of hospitalization and even a substantial amount of annual deaths. This you cannot ignore.
With the current pandemic prevailing globally, a flu shot has become crucial to stay away from any symptom that may take you to the hospital.
Influenza vaccines develop antibodies in the body two weeks after vaccination. The viruses used to make the vaccine give protection to our system from infections.
The team at Livetray is more than concerned with the benefits and risks of flu vaccines. Hence a detailed and brief guideline has been compiled before you go and get a flu shot.
TYPES OF VACCINES
There are several flu vaccines, out of which two vaccines are widely available.
- Inactivated Influenza Vaccines
Inactivated influenza vaccines or IIV are generally used in patients that are six months and older. Pregnant mothers and patients with chronic health conditions are also eligible for IIV.
The inactivated viruses in these vaccines do not cause influenza, though there may be minor side effects around the injection site.
- Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccines
Live attenuated influenza vaccines, or LAIV, are used in patients aged between 2 to 49. They are not to be used on pregnant mothers. This vaccine comes in the form of a nasal spray.
As the name suggests, the vaccine comprises attenuated or weakened viruses that do not cause influenza. However, mild effects like nasal congestion, fever, sore throat, and rhinorrhoea may occur after vaccination.
Benefits of Flu Vaccines
- Prevention of flu: The administration of flu vaccines in your system will prevent influenza. Getting a flu vaccine will reduce your visit to the doctor, hospitalization, and deaths related to flu. It may still be possible to get the flu after vaccination, but your symptoms will be much milder.
- Protection in the community: You protect your system through vaccination, which prevents the spread of the virus within the community. There may be some in your community who have not yet taken the vaccination. If you are vaccinated, you are stopping the spread of flu to a great deal.
- Protects pregnant women: Flu vaccines reduce flu-related risks in pregnant women substantially. A pregnant mother who gets a flu shot has fewer chances to be hospitalized with flu than those who are not vaccinated. The flu vaccine does not only protect the mother but the child as well from the flu. Since babies below six months cannot get a flu vaccine, the vaccinated mother helps pass the antibodies to the child after birth.
- Protects patients with chronic health conditions: Patients with chronic lung diseases need flu vaccination to avoid hospitalization for flu-related illness.
Risks of Flu Vaccines
- You can still get the flu: It takes around two weeks for the vaccine to establish antibodies in the system, during which time you have the risk of getting the flu even after vaccination.
- Allergic reaction: If you are allergic to the vaccine, symptoms may start showing within minutes or even hours after vaccination. These symptoms may include wheezing, difficulty in breathing, heart palpitations, rashes, feeling weak or dizzy and swelling around the mouth and eyes. Upon noticing mild allergic symptoms, go to the doctor.
Who Should Get a Flu Vaccine?
- The IIV shots are approved for six-month-old babies and above.
- Pregnant women should get flu shots to protect themselves and their babies from the flu.
- People with chronic health conditions should get the flu shot.
- People who are allergic to eggs should also get the flu vaccine.
Who Shouldn’t Get a Flu Vaccine?
- Babies below six months should not get the flu shot.
- People with a severe allergic reaction to vaccines should consult the doctor before getting a flu shot.
- Patients who suffer from Guillain-Barre syndrome are highly advised to consult the physician before getting a shot. A flu vaccine may trigger the condition.
COMMON MYTHS ABOUT FLU VACCINE
Myth 1. I don’t need a vaccine because influenza is not serious
There are thousands of people dying from influenza, especially those with a weak immune system. Healthy people who get infected with flu may recover within a few weeks but may develop complications like sinus, pneumonia, and even inflammation in the heart and brain.
Myth 2. Flu Vaccines will give me flu
Injected flu vaccines have an inactivated virus that cannot develop influenza in your body. The body ache and feverish feeling you get even after getting the shot is a normal side effect that will last for up to two days.
Myth 3. The vaccine doesn’t work because I still have the flu after the vaccination
The vaccine takes about two weeks to release its antibodies against influenza, which is why you get infected with flu before these reactions start.
Myth 4. I don’t need a flu shot because I got one last year
The flu viruses keep continually changing, which is why vaccines are reviewed every year. The vaccine you took last year will not be as effective to fight the virus this year.
Myth 5. I am pregnant. Flu vaccines could cause a miscarriage
Flu vaccines are not linked to miscarriages, but the flu itself is. Unless you have an underlying health condition, it is better to get a flu shot for you and your baby. Since your baby cannot get a flu vaccine before six months, the antibodies from your vaccinated body will transfer to their bodies and fight against influenza effectively.
After a thorough study by the Livetray team, there are conditions where flu vaccines can be safe and risky.
In simple words, the general population needs the vaccine to fight influenza. Children below six months and people who are allergic to vaccines should stay clear of the shot. In any case, if you are doubtful of taking the vaccine, consult your health physician before getting the shot. If you use alternative medicine to fight disease, you will be interested in learning how you can use spices instead of drugs. Read here about 5 spices that work better than many pills.