Influenza virus claims thousands of lives every year mainly because people do not take flu shots seriously. Although flu virus can attack anybody, more susceptible are those with weak immune systems, babies, those with chronic health ailments, pregnant women and the aged.
The influenza vaccine, commonly known as the flu shot, is an annual vaccine meant to provide immunization against the influenza virus. A flu shot when injected contains three influenza virus. These are: influenza type A subtype H3N2virus strain; influenza type B virus strain and influenza type A subtype H1N1 (seasonal) virus strain.
Given below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Influenza vaccine:
1. Why flu shots are required every season?
Influenza virus is a very dangerous ailment, mainly because of two reasons-
Firstly, it can lead to major complications such as sinus and ear infections, worsening of asthma and diabetes and even pneumonia, which can cause death.
Secondly, the virus evolves and develops immunity very quickly. Therefore, there is no permanent vaccine against it; making it important to take flu shots annually, at the beginning of every flu season.
2. Does the shot give complete protection?
Flu virus kills around 500,000 people worldwide every year
Research for developing a vaccine against influenza began in 1950
Influenza virus comes in many strains and in each season, some of the strains are active. So, officials from CDC research and narrow down the three most active strains and develop vaccines against them. So, the chances that you are protected are pretty high. However, sometimes, a strain that has not been chosen becomes active or a new one develops mid-way. Nevertheless, the vaccine does go a long way in reducing the severity of infection.
3. Do vaccines cause flu?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions about flu shots because people who take the shots do experience flu like symptoms just after immunization. The symptoms occur because the immune system of the body is triggered against the virus introduced through the shot. However, these viruses are either dead or in a very weak form. They do not cause a full blown flu infection but, do trigger the immune system, which brings about the symptoms.
4. When should the shot be taken?
The sooner you take the shot, the higher will be your chance of being protected. Safest are those who take the shots before the virus becomes active in the region.
5. Which is the better choice – flu shots or flu sprays?
Flu shots are better and more effective. Shots contain dead virus while sprays contain very weakened but live virus. For people who are averse to needles, flu nasal sprays are a suitable alternative. However, sprays are not suitable for pregnant women, people with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or for those who are allergic to chicken eggs, children below 2 years of age and those above 49 years. Shots are not suitable for people who are allergic to them and for those who suffer Guillaine-Barre syndrome.
6. Should pregnant women take the shots?
Pregnant women should receive shots because flu viruses are partial towards pregnant women and taking shots during pregnancy immunizes the child for the first six months after birth. However, pregnant women should avoid taking the vaccine via a nasal spray.
7. Do shots contain high mercury levels?
Vaccines for children contain no mercury. Some of the vaccines for adults contain a very small amount and do not lead to poisoning, autism or other side effects. You can always ask for a mercury free shot.
So, take your seasonal shot and say cheers to good health.