Influenza is a very common viral infection which affects huge number of people of all ages every year. In some cases, it can become much more serious and lead to medical complications. Influenza leads to loss of vast number of working days every year. So, it is necessary to prevent this disease as much as possible. Doctors recommend some basic precautionary measures like washing hands thoroughly with warm water and soap and avoiding touching the face after exposure to the flu virus. However, it is probably the flu vaccine which is regarded as one of the most effective measures of flu prevention.
How can vaccines help to prevent flu?
Here are some important facts that you should know about the flu vaccine and its role in prevention of infection:
• Seasonal flu vaccines should be taken every year before the onset of the flu season. This is especially true for the more vulnerable group of people like children, pregnant women and aged people. However, anybody above the age of six months should get the flu vaccine.
• The flu vaccine can be taken as a shot or as a nasal spray vaccine.
• The flu vaccine helps the body to develop adequate antibodies against influenza infection. It takes about two weeks for these antibodies to develop fully. These antibodies provide protection against the flu virus.
• Research is conducted every year to find out which type of flu virus is likely to dominate in that particular year and accordingly the flu vaccine is prepared and circulated. In general, three types of flu vaccines are most common. These are influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
• Though normally the flu season starts around the middle of November, in some years, it may set in as early as October. It takes two full weeks for the flu antibodies to develop after the shot. So, you should get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your community.
• You can get the flu vaccine at clinics, doctors’ offices and health departments. These are also sometimes distributed in schools.
• The immunity that the body acquires with the vaccine gradually declines with the passage of time. Also, the character of the dominant flu virus change every year. That is why it is necessary to get the flu vaccine every year.
• When you get vaccinated, you can expect some mild side effects like swelling, redness, low grade fever and ache. In very few instances, severe allergic reactions have been reported.
• A few people should not get influenza vaccine. They include babies less than six months of age, people with severe allergy to chicken eggs or those with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
• Influenza vaccine is produced and distributed by private companies. The Department of Health and Human Services and CDC have no role to play here.
Get timely vaccines to prevent flu
Though you may have escaped the clutches of flu the last few years, you should not neglect to get the flu vaccine. This is a very necessary precaution to protect against influenza.