People are dying from the flu! Now, this week!
Do you get an annual flu vaccine?
If yes, does that mean you will not get the flu?
If you do not get a flu vaccine, why not?
Let’s review some common responses to these questions…and the truth based on evidence.
There are several varieties of flu vaccine available. A lot of research in recent years is responsible. Remember within the last 10 years when there was a shortage? Not everyone could even get the vaccine. Then, in 2009, a new strain called H1N1, or ‘swine flu’ emerged making many people very sick. Since all of that, these new options protect against H1N1. They cover more specific strains expected to be active this year. Some are now safe for people with egg allergies. Some are specific for people over age 65.
When you get the vaccine, it is NOT LIVE VIRUS that is injected. It is virus that has been grown then ‘killed’ before injection. Most are placed, via needle, in your upper arm muscle just below your shoulder (deltoid muscle). The injected substance then prompts your immune system to develop antibodies to the virus. Antibodies are the parts of your immune system that fight infections. The antibodies will be specific to the strains of virus in the vaccine.
Some flu vaccines cover three strains of flu while others cover four. The strains selected for the vaccine are the most dangerous. There are other milder strains of the flu not covered by the vaccine. So, you can still get the flu, but not the most deadly types.
The type of flu vaccine that is specific for people over age 65 is a bit stronger. In our 60’s and beyond our immune system often isn’t quite as active. So, the stronger vaccine will provide better protection.
There is also a live version of the flu strains that is given in the nose. This is an option for people who really, really hate needles. Note, people with cancer, compromised immune systems, and some other conditions cannot receive the live version. Please check with your doctor or person providing immunizations.
Who should NOT get the flu vaccine?
There are very few people in this category. For people with egg allergies, there is now a type of flu vaccine that does not contain egg. If you had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past, be sure to talk with your doctor before deciding whether to get one. With several varieties of vaccine available, there might be a version that does not contain the substance to which you are allergic. If you have or have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, talk with your doctor. There is not currently a vaccine approved for children under 6 months of age. Otherwise, you should be seeking your flu vaccine!
The people who are DYING from the flu usually get the flu then get pneumonia while they are sick. Flu deaths tend to occur most often later in the flu season (so now!). Those who die are usually over age 75 or they have other medical conditions involved. Then there are those who no one would have expected.
Don’t let the flu catch you by surprise. It is NOT TOO LATE to get your flu vaccine!
For more information about flu vaccines, contact us at www.medsmash.com.
For further application, check out my personal blog.
Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services