Why You Need The Flu Shot: Flu And The Vaccine
Why You Need The Flu Shot: Flu And The Vaccine
The flu vaccine is an immunization procedure used against influenza infection also known as Flu or seasonal Flu. Flu is caused by viruses which target the respiratory tract of a person. We have used the word “viruses” because flu can be caused by more than one type of virus. The disease is also contagious, which is why immediate treatment is recommended if you ever contract flu.
What causes Flu
There are four different types of influenza viruses – A, B, C, and D. However, in humans, Flu is caused by only Influenza A and B viruses. Influenza A viruses can be further divided into subtypes influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
The virus normally enters the human body through the nose, mouth or eyes. The virus then travels down the respiratory tract adhering to the epithelial skin which lines your lungs. The virus then enters the cells and hijacks them, making them produce viral proteins and viral particles instead of their normal function. Once matured, the viral particles will go on to attack adjacent cells which leads to the spread of the disease.
When your body realizes the virus infection, it quickly starts to deploy countermeasures. The effects that you feel from influenza is the reaction that your body has because of the immune response. The immune system will try to kill the virus-infected cells, this causes a great deal of lung damage and you will feel find it harder to breathe. Getting immediate medical attention is critical in cases where persistent coughing or headaches occur.
What are the symptoms of Flu
As we just discussed, the battle between your body and the virus will cause many biochemical changes to your body. You might experience them as:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle ache
Doctors recommend you should seek professional help if the conditions persist or worsen within the first 48 hours of symptoms to be considered for treatment.
Why you need flu shot: Getting flu shots in 2019
Flu can be dangerous if it persists in the body for an extended amount of time. One of the common mistakes that people often make is to not give enough seriousness to the disease. Flu can be particularly deadly if it affects children, senior citizen or women who are in pregnancy.
Did you know that in the US alone, Influenza affects 5 to 20% of the population and often up to 200,000 require hospitalization? What’s concerning is that influenza can really damage your body after it spreads along with the lungs, and 50,000 people lose their lives every year because of this disease.
Flu vaccinations have been the most effective form of defense against influenza. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, Flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses and 85,000 hospitalizations. So there is no doubt in when it comes to the effectiveness of flu shots.
A flu vaccine can be administered in two ways – as an injection or by nasal spray. The choice is made based on your age and other risk factors.
Do you need to get a flu shot every year?
Yes, considering the fact that flu vaccine can only bump up the immune system’s reaction for a year, it is always safe to get flu shots every year.
One other thing about flu viruses is that they show variances in their design with time. The viruses achieve this through two ways – Antigenic Drift and Antigenic Shift. Antigenic Drift causes minor variances in the virus while Antigen Shift causes dramatic changes to their design.
We saw an example of Antigenic Shift this during the spring of 2009 where a shift in H1N1 virus caused a pandemic and most people were left defenseless against the new type of virus. Each year, the influenza virus is studied and the vaccines are adjusted and developed according to the virus. Hence, getting a flu shot each year gives you the best protection against the disease.
Type of flu shots
Flu shots or Influenza vaccines are of two types: Inactivated (killed) vaccine and live attenuated (weakened) vaccine.
Inactivated Vaccines are called flu shots because they are injected right into your body using a needle. The inactivated vaccine contains flu viruses that are killed and then purified.
Live attenuated Vaccine has weakened flu viruses that are purified through different manufacturing processes. This form of the vaccine is used as a nasal spray.
Both types of vaccines have the same effect where once the antigen enters the body, our immune system fights the virus and remembers how to prevent such infections in the future.
Is flu same as cold
Many have the misconception that flu is the same as cold, and their belief is fueled by the fact that both these disease share some common symptoms. However, you should understand that influenza or flu is much deadlier than common cold.
Persistent headaches, persistent congestion, and persistent coughing are one of the common identifiers when it comes to distinguishing flu from cold. If you have such symptoms, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Also, special care must be given to children, senior citizens and pregnant woman in getting them medical attention as their immune system might not be able to handle the disease.
Generally, flu is most common during the flu season which is the time between October to mid-May. Always make sure that you get your flu shots without delaying it to the later part of the year.
Flu shots are important for the wellbeing of yourself and the general public. At Bee Well El Paso Pediatrics, we provide flu shots for children to safeguard them against potent viruses. Book an appointment today for your Flu vaccine! Call or text us to learn more about flu shots and other necessary vaccinations for your child. As always, prevention is better than cure!
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