Influenza or the flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness which affects millions of people worldwide. Seasonal flu can result in hospitalization and occasionally fatalities. However, it can be prevented and the effects can be minimized, if infected, by vaccination.
About the Flu
The flu is caused by influenza viruses which mainly spread through respiratory droplets. The virus is transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of the flu often include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue and trouble breathing. While the majority of people recover within a week or two, the flu can cause serious complications, especially in young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
The Role of the Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is designed to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that protect against certain strains of flu virus. The vaccines contain inactivated or weakened forms of the virus or specific viral proteins. The main goal of vaccination is to prevent infection and to reduce the severity of the disease if infected.
Effectiveness of the Flu Vaccine
The effectiveness varies from year to year, depending on how well the vaccine strain interacts with circulating viruses. Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) assesses influenza activity around the world and recommends strains that should be included in seasonal influenza vaccines. Despite potential differences, the flu vaccine still has significant advantages in reducing the risk of infection, severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Public health officials and medical professionals generally recommend an annual flu shot, especially for people at high risk of complications and those who have been in close contact with certain populations including healthcare workers, pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. Vaccination is usually recommended before the flu season to ensure optimal protection.
Side Effects and Safety
The flu vaccine is generally safe and the most common side effects are mild and short-lived, such as pain at the injection site or low-grade fever. Before getting the vaccine, it is important to consult a healthcare professional regarding specific concerns or contraindications.
The flu vaccine complements other precautions to limit the spread of the virus, such as frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick, etc.. By combining these precautions with vaccination, everyone can better protect themselves and those around them.
Getting an annual flu shot is a critical step in protecting yourself and others from seasonal flu. Although the effectiveness of vaccines varies, they can significantly reduce the risk of infection, serious illness and complications. To discuss and plan for the vaccination, visit PrimoCare Medical Clinic and get professional advice from our physicians. You can inquire or make an appointment in advance here.