There is a lot of talk amongst people on whether the flu vaccine is effective, even going as far as questioning whether it’s safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine is not only safe to use but highly advisable, and here’s why.
The American Academy of family physicians have stated that close to 130,000 people in the USA go to hospital because of the flu, and according to the CDC, close to 20,000 people on average die from influenza every year. With these types of statistics, it’s understandable why people are urged to protect themselves by getting a flu vaccine.
You normally know when you have the flu and not a cold when you find yourself unable to go to work because of the severity of the symptoms, and unlike the common cold, influenza usually starts very suddenly and has a very big impact straightaway. For many people, this is considered the worst cold of their life. Here are the most common flu symptoms:
- Dry cough
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Eye pain
- Bad headache
- Sore throat
Medication versus the Flu Vaccine
There is still a common belief that medication is sufficient to fight against influenza. This is incorrect. Medications don’t actually cure the flu; they simply help to reduce the severity of the symptoms so that you can feel more comfortable while your body tries to recover. Antibiotics don’t work either, because the flu is a virus.
How the Flu Vaccine Works
According to the CDC, flu vaccines are a far more effective way to help prevent getting influenza. These vaccines normally protect against three types of influenza which are:
- Influenza A (H1N1)
- Influenza A (H3N2)
- Influenza B
Once the flu vaccine has been administered, your body will need around two weeks to create antibodies that will then fight off the infection. These antibodies will then stick around for a few months to fight the strains of influenza for that year.
Nothing is 100%, though. Every year, scientists have to choose the correct strains that they believe will have a high probability of showing up in the United States for that year. So, there is a chance that you might contract a flu strain that is different to the one the vaccine has been designed for. In this case, you will still get the flu.
However, if scientists do make the right choice, flu vaccines can have an effectiveness rate of 70 to 90% in preventing influenza among people that are younger than 65 years and who are generally healthy. And for those that still get the flu after the vaccine has been administered, they will notice that their flu symptoms are milder than if they didn’t get the vaccine. There is also less likelihood of complications from the flu because the body has already been prepared to handle that flu strain.
Can the Flu Vaccine Give a Person the Flu?
According to the CDC, this is another myth. People cannot get the flu from the vaccine because of the way in which it’s been developed. Flu vaccines are made from inactivated forms of the virus or from the proteins of a weakened form of the flu. The reason why some people still get the flu or feel certain symptoms is because they either have a reaction to the vaccine, which is normally very mild, or because they had already contracted the flu just before the vaccine was administered. The flu vaccine is so safe that the CDC recommends that people older than six months can already start taking it.
Do I Have To Get a Flu Vaccine Every Year?
Yes, you do. The reason for this is because flu strains are always changing, and so the type of influenza you get this year could be completely different the following. In addition, the antibodies that develop from the previous vaccine will only last for a few months, so you would need to get a renewed shot, regardless of whether it’s from the same strain or different strain, to be optimally protected for the following year.
It is very easy to get a vaccine. In most states, you can simply go to the grocery store, hospital or your doctor’s office. Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter where you go because the same vaccine will be used. If you would like more information, you can visit the CDC’s webpage on the following URL: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/clinical-resources/shortages.html.