10 Facts About Flu Shots

January 7, 2021

Should you get a flu shot?
Influenza is a viral infection. More commonly known as the flu, the symptoms of this illness range from mild to severe. Influenza can lead to hospitalization and even death in an already weakened body. The severity of the flu varies from year to year.

Healthy people can be infected by the flu virus and pass it on to others. However, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu.

The best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu and spreading it to others is to get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is available as an injection or as a nasal spray. When more people in a community are vaccinated against the flu, the disease spreads to fewer people and the entire community becomes more immune.

How the flu vaccine works
The flu vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that provide immune defense against disease. After receiving a flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to produce antibodies. This means that your body is still susceptible to infection for two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine.

Each year’s seasonal flu vaccine is tailored to the specific strains of influenza that are currently circulating. The trivalent flu vaccine protects against two strains of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and one strain of influenza B. The tetravalent flu vaccine protects against two strains of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and one strain of influenza B. The tetravalent flu vaccine protects against two strains of influenza B (H1N1 and H3N2) and one strain of influenza B (H3N2). The quadrivalent vaccine protects against all three types of influenza and an additional type of influenza B.

Who should be vaccinated?
Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine, but there are very few exceptions that will be detailed later in this article. Some people need to be vaccinated more than others. People who work with or around children or the sick should strongly consider getting a flu vaccine every year to help protect themselves and the vulnerable populations they work with.

Different types of flu vaccines are appropriate for different people. The patient’s age, health status, and allergies should be considered when deciding which flu vaccine is right for them.

People aged 2 to 49 years who do not want the standard, injectable flu vaccine can opt for the nasal spray vaccine, as long as they meet certain requirements.

When to get vaccinated
Ideally, it is best to get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available at the start of the flu season. Flu outbreaks can begin as early as October and usually peak between December and February. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has conducted research on the peak influenza season. In about 40 percent of the U.S. flu seasons studied (1982-2018), February was the month with the highest percentage of positive test samples for influenza. Keep in mind that this may vary from community to community and year to year.

The vaccine is usually offered between September and early November. As long as the flu is circulating, it is appropriate to get vaccinated. You can best help protect yourself and your community from the flu by getting a flu vaccine as early as possible or before the flu season begins.

Where to get a flu shot
Flu vaccines are widely available at pharmacies, supermarkets, urgent care centers, clinics, doctor’s offices, and university health centers. Some employers and schools even offer flu shots on site. You do not need to be under the regular care of a doctor or nurse to get a flu vaccine.

Can I still get the flu after getting a flu shot?
Yes, you can still get the flu even if you have been vaccinated against it first. There could be a number of reasons for this. For one, the effectiveness of the vaccine varies depending on your age and health status. Another reason is that the vaccine is only fully effective two weeks after you get it, when your body has time to develop immunity.

Another problem is that new vaccines are developed every year. Every year, public health officials predict which flu strains will be in circulation. They produce vaccines each year to best protect against the expected strains. However, the strains that circulate do not always match the strains in the vaccine.

Vaccines are most effective when the strains in the vaccine are closely matched to the strains that cause the disease. But even in years when the flu vaccine is not a good match, vaccination can stimulate the production of antibodies. This gives some protection to the strains in circulation through a process called cross-protection. These antibodies will be enough to protect some people from getting the flu and will help protect others from the dangerous complications of the flu.

Even if you get sick after getting vaccinated, several studies have shown that you are likely to get sick less often than usual. People who are vaccinated are hospitalized less often for illness, and those who are hospitalized have a shorter average length of stay.

What are the benefits of getting a flu vaccine?
There are many benefits to getting a flu vaccine. The most obvious and probably the biggest benefit is that the flu vaccine helps protect you and those around you from contracting the flu. But the benefits don’t stop there.

The flu vaccine also helps protect vulnerable people in your community: infants, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses. These especially vulnerable people are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection.

Getting vaccinated can also lessen the intensity of the illness, if you do contract the flu. That’s why the flu vaccine helps prevent potentially serious complications from the flu.

Flu vaccination may be even more important if you have certain serious medical conditions. People who have heart disease are less likely to have harmful cardiac events after getting the vaccine. And people with diabetes and chronic lung disease have shorter average hospital stays after getting the vaccine.

Will the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No way, the flu vaccine can’t make you sick with the flu. The injectable flu vaccine contains either an inactivated virus or no virus at all, neither of which can make you sick.

The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain an attenuated live virus (attenuated). It also does not make people sick with the flu. The viruses used in the nasal spray vaccine are cold-adapted. This means they are designed to only infect cooler environments, such as the environment inside your nose. The viruses in the nasal vaccine cannot infect warm body parts such as the lungs. While some people who receive the nasal spray do experience some symptoms, these symptoms are usually milder and last for a shorter period of time than with a flu infection.

Any side effects?
The possible side effects of the flu and nasal vaccines vary. The most typical side effect is a local skin reaction. The skin immediately adjacent to the injection area may be swollen, painful, red and tender. This reaction usually goes away within one to two days.

Will the flu vaccine cause me to get sick?
Unlikely. The study comparing people who took the flu vaccine with those who took a placebo showed no difference as to who developed symptoms such as fever, runny nose and body aches. Some of the people who received the shot had been or would be infected with the common cold virus or some other illness. In addition, some people have been infected with the flu before the vaccine was fully effective (two weeks after the shot).

Side effects of the nasal spray flu vaccine
The nasal spray flu vaccine may cause different side effects than the shot, including vomiting, fever, headache, and common flu symptoms such as a runny nose and sore throat. When these symptoms do occur, they are usually much less severe than the same symptoms associated with a flu infection.

Serious side effects
Allergic reactions are the most serious side effect of getting the flu vaccine. They are very rare. Allergic reactions can be fatal, but they can also be effectively treated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that even those with a known allergy to eggs be vaccinated against the flu, but only if those patients are monitored after the shot.

Who should not get the flu vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine, but there are some exceptions.

Influenza Vaccine.
These people should not receive the flu vaccine.

Infants under 6 months of age, they are too young.
Anyone who has a severe, anaphylaxis-type allergy to the flu vaccine or any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Such ingredients include gelatin and antibiotics.
These people should consult with their doctor before getting the flu vaccine.

Currently not feeling well.
History of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
Are allergic to eggs or to other ingredients in the vaccine. People who are allergic to eggs can usually still receive the vaccine with additional safety measures.
Nasal flu vaccine
These people should not get the nasal flu vaccine.

Children under two years of age
Adults over 50
pregnant woman
Children aged 2-17 years taking aspirin or salicylates.
People with weak immune systems and those who care for them.
Children 2 to 4 years old with asthma.
People who are prone to severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
People who have recently taken antiviral medication for the flu.
Children who are taking the medication Humira should not get this vaccine because this medication can reduce the child’s immune response.
These people should talk to their doctor before getting the nasal vaccine.

People over 5 years of age with asthma
Anyone with a serious chronic illness, such as heart disease, kidney disease, chronic lung disease, etc.
Anyone who currently has a moderate or severe illness (whether or not because of a fever).
Anyone who contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of a previous flu vaccination.