Influenza virus is a common infection that affects millions of people every year. You don’t have to be immunocompromised or weak to get affected by it. Influenza is highly contagious; it means any exposure to an affected person will increase your chances to get hit by it.
Healthy persons are at a high risk of many pathogenic diseases. Viral diseases are difficult and tricky because it spreads like anything. Also, it takes more time and effort to get rid of a viral disease like influence.
Influenza is treatable and there is no lethal effect of it. But older people may get secondary infections that may lead to death. This only applies to people over 65years of age.
Disease management and prevention plan, especially of a viral disease is completed through vaccination. The vaccine for influenza is available as an injectable form. It is commonly called “flu shot”.
What Does a Flu Shot Do?
A vaccination against flu will make you less susceptible to catch it, even when you are around infected people. The symptoms of flu shot appear quickly. The sudden onset of cold-like conditions is the first hallmark of the disease. It may take several days for the symptoms to vanish.
One of the most common symptoms of influenza is to have a painful breath. People suffering from flu are uncomfortable and go through a fatigue like condition, which doesn’t seem like a disease but is very undesirable.
It’s like a state when you are careless, lazy and don’t want to do anything. Getting out of bed seems impossible and it is oftentimes covered with stress like condition.
These conditions, along with many others indicate that the influenza virus has targeted you and you have to get a proper treatment for it.
Before jumping to prevention methods of influenza i.e. flu shots, let’s explore causes of influenza.
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What Causes the Flu?
Flu or influenza is the disease, which shows cold-like symptoms but is caused by a virus of the same name. Your body is capable of picking the virus from anyone around you, a contaminated surface, cough or sneeze of the infected person.
To your surprise, you are also able to get it from the inanimate objects, as the virus is so strong that it may live for up to eight hours on it. During this time, if anyone touches the surface, he has a high risk of getting the virus.
This surface could be anything i.e. a doorknob, the keyboard of your laptop, table or chair. Anyone with the viral disease if touched the surface, he will leave it on the surface. If you touch the same surface after him, the virus can attack your body through mouth, eyes or nose.
The good news is that you can get a flu vaccine before it hits you. The vaccine for flu or flu shot helps your body to make the necessary step to beat the virus.
In this way, when the virus attacks your body, the body has already made its defense plan and it combats the virus.
Is There Any Problem?
The only problem with flu shots is that the virus of influenza is morphing and changing. It changes itself so that a one-time vaccine is not enough, unlike most of the other vaccines.
You are required to get flu shot every year to make sure that your immune system has been activated by the virus.
It is still possible to get the virus even after vaccine only when you come into contact with a different strain of the virus, causing the same infection (influenza). Even in this case, the symptoms of the disease will be just like influenza.
There are chances that your symptoms will be not much severe, as you already have the vaccine. This process is called cross-protection when different viral strains of same disease share common elements and a vaccine against one gives a little protection against the rest too.
Where Can You Get a Flu Shot?
Many people may not know that which is the right place to get a vaccine or flu shot. It is easier than you think. The flu shot is available at most of the doctor’s clinic. You are more likely to find it in places such as;
- Walk-in medical dispensaries
- City hospital
- Native health departments
- College health centers
Some educational institutes and offices also arrange seasonal vaccinations for their respective members. Mostly, they are free or supported by the regulatory authority. Institutes and companies of the public sector are more likely to be associated with the local health department.
If you can’t find a flu shot provider in any of the up listed options, try and search a vaccine center around you online. There are several websites, which assist you to locate a healthcare center and reserve an appointment for you.
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How Does A Flu Shot Work?
The working of the flu shot is simple. The health experts suggest getting annual flu shot before the winter starts. Every year, millions of these flu vaccines are prepared and distributed in among all parts of the world.
Once you are injected with the vaccine, your body starts producing antibodies in response to the respective viral strain. These antibodies are saved inside the body and provide protection when you actually come across the injection.
Having a flu shot before the season start will prevent you from ending up at suffering from the same viral infection.
Anyhow you are susceptible to get affected by any other strain of the same disease as well. The symptoms of this new strain caused influenza may be similar but less intense than the one you got vaccinated.
Who Should Get A Shot?
The experts believe that the flu shot is safe for everyone. Any person over 6 months of age is capable of getting a seasonal flu shot. People that fall into a high-risk category should be more cautious about getting the annual flu shot.
The high-risk category of people against the influenza virus is as follows.
- Older people usually over 65 years.
- Women who are pregnant
- Children that are under 5 years of age.
- People with weak immunity due to chronic illness or genetic
The best time to get a flu shot is by the end of October or start of November. It is the right time when your body responds well and prepares the antibodies before the flu season begins.
Is Flu Shot Suitable for Kids?
Kids are highly susceptible to get sick from an influenza virus. Some of these infections become chronic and end up at hospitalization. Whereas others are treated with self-help plans. As compared to adults, flu virus attacks children more. Children under age 2 are at extreme risk of a flu attack.
The best way to protect your child against the flu virus is to get him a flu shot. Vaccinating children with flu each year will prevent the risk of a viral attack. The doctors recommend that a child over 6 months of age is able to receive a flu shot.
The flu shot or flu vaccine is available in the form of injections of inhalable nasal spray. The doctor can tell better that which form of the vaccine is suitable for your child.
Children between 6 months to 8 years need two dosages of the flu shot with a gap in-between. The flu shot is not suitable for children under 6 months of age.
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Are There Any Side Effects?
Many people avoid the vaccine for the fear that it will not heal them but make them sick. They don’t understand the working of vaccination. It is very important to understand the disease, vaccination and how it will help you.
Your reason to get infected by any disease can never be the vaccination. A flu shot contains weakened strains of the same virus, which is used for making antibodies in advance.
These strains are not strong enough to cause a disease inside the body. So there are so side effects of a flu shot.
You may feel some undesirable effects of flu shot such as;
- Soreness in the area where you get an injection
- Fever of low grade
- Mild pain and stiffness at the site o injection
These side effects are mild and temporary. They take maximum two days to vanish on their own. There is no treatment required for these effects. Rarely, some people are allergic to vaccination. If you happen to have an allergy, make sure to inform your doctor before getting the flu shot.