Why Do You Need A Flu Shot Every Year?
By Apollo Pharmacy, Published on- 28 September 2023, Updated on -25 October 2023
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Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It affects millions of people globally and can lead to severe complications, hospitalisations, and even death. The best way to protect yourself and others from the flu is to get an annual flu shot. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of getting a flu shot every year.
We will explore how it helps prevent various types of flu, including eye flu, tomato flu, cold flu, swine flu, and bird flu.
What is Influenza?
Influenza spreads easily from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The flu can affect people of all ages and can lead to mild to severe illness, and even death in some cases.
Why is Prevention Important?
Each year, millions of people worldwide are affected by the flu, leading to hospitalisations, missed work or school days, and in some cases, complications that require medical intervention.
By getting vaccinated, you not only reduce your chances of contracting the flu but also help prevent its transmission to vulnerable individuals, such as young children and the elderly.
Vaccines work by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies that fight against specific strains of influenza viruses. When we encounter the actual virus, our body recognises it and launches a rapid immune response, preventing the infection from spreading and reducing the severity of symptoms.
The Benefits of Annual Flu Shots
The following are the benefits of taking flu shots every year:
1. Protection against multiple strains
- One of the key benefits of getting an annual flu shot is that it protects against multiple strains of the flu virus. The flu vaccine is designed to target the most common strains of influenza that are expected to circulate during the flu season.
- By receiving the flu shot, you are arming your immune system with the necessary tools to fight off these specific strains.
- Studies have shown that getting a flu shot can significantly decrease your chances of developing flu symptoms and complications.
- It can also help to reduce the severity and duration of illness if you do happen to get infected.
2. Reduced risk of severe illness and complications
- By getting vaccinated each year, you can lower your chances of being hospitalised due to the flu. Studies have shown that vaccinated individuals are less likely to develop pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.
- The annual flu shot also plays a crucial role in reducing mortality rates associated with the flu. Research has shown that people who receive the vaccine are less likely to die from flu-related complications compared to those who are unvaccinated.
3. Protection for vulnerable populations
By getting vaccinated, you also contribute to the protection of vulnerable populations,
such as children, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic medical conditions.
- Children are particularly susceptible to the flu due to their developing immune systems. Vaccinating them not only helps prevent illness but also reduces the spread of the virus among their classmates and family members. This can have a significant impact on decreasing the overall flu burden in the community.
- For older adults, the risk of complications from the flu increases as they age. By getting a flu shot, they can reduce their chances of severe illness and hospitalisation.
- Vaccinating pregnant women protects both the mother and her unborn child. Studies have shown that flu shots can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalisations in pregnant women and protect newborns during their first months of life.
- Individuals with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, are more susceptible to severe illness if they contract the flu. Vaccination can help prevent complications and reduce the need for hospitalisation among this population.
Debunking Common Misconceptions About Flu Vaccines
Flu vaccines have been the subject of many misconceptions over the years. It's important to address these misconceptions and provide evidence-based information to reassure readers. Here are some common myths surrounding flu vaccines:
1. Flu vaccines contain harmful ingredients.
Flu vaccines are made using inactivated or weakened virus particles. They do not contain live viruses and are safe for most people, including children and pregnant women.
2. Flu vaccines cause severe side effects
Some people may experience mild side effects like soreness at the injection site or a low-grade fever, these symptoms generally subside within a day or two. Serious side effects are extremely rare. Furthermore, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
3. Flu Vaccine Can Have Long-Term Effects
Extensive research has shown that flu vaccines do not cause any long-term health problems. On the contrary, getting an annual flu shot can reduce your risk of developing serious complications from influenza.
How to Get Your Annual Flu Shot?
In India, the government runs annual vaccination programs targeting high-risk groups such as healthcare workers, pregnant women, and the elderly. Private healthcare providers also offer flu shots to the general population.
It's important to get your flu shot at the right time to ensure optimal protection during peak flu season. The ideal time to get vaccinated is in early fall, preferably by the end of October. However, it's never too late to get vaccinated, so don't hesitate if you've missed the recommended timeframe.
Additional Preventive Measures During Flu Season
Measures that may help prevent flu include:
- Use soap and water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, or being in public spaces. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Try to stay away from people who are sick, as flu viruses can spread through respiratory droplets when infected individuals cough or sneeze.
- Use a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues properly and wash your hands afterwards.
- Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and vitamin C-rich foods in your diet to help support your immune system.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking or cycling per week, along with strength training exercises.
- Getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining a strong immune system. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
Getting an annual flu shot is a crucial step in protecting yourself and your community from the influenza virus. It is essential to remember that influenza viruses can change each year, making it necessary to get vaccinated annually. Protecting yourself also means safeguarding those around you. So, prioritize your health and make a point to get your annual flu shot.
Q. Are there any side effects of the flu shot?
Some people may experience mild side effects after getting the flu shot, such as soreness at the injection site, low-grade fever, or body aches. These symptoms usually resolve within a day or two.
Q. When should I get the flu shot?
It is best to get the flu shot before the start of flu season, which typically peaks between December and February. However, it's never too late to get vaccinated, as the flu can circulate well into spring.
Q. Is it safe to get a flu shot if I am pregnant?
Yes, it is safe and highly recommended for pregnant women to get a flu shot. It not only protects them but also their unborn baby.
Q. Can I get the flu from the vaccine?
No, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine as it does not contain live viruses. Some individuals may experience mild side effects like soreness at the injection site or a low-grade fever.
Q. How effective is the flu vaccine?
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year depending on how well it matches the circulating strains. However, even if it doesn't provide complete protection, it can still reduce the severity of symptoms.
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