Flu Shots: What are they? Are they important?
What is the flu?
The flu is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses. These viruses infect the nose and throat most commonly. Sometimes the flu can also affect the lungs. There are four types of flu viruses: A, B, C, and D. The flu, as we commonly know, it strains A and B. Strains A and B are what we deal with every winter.
Why do I need it?
Because the flu viruses evolve so quickly, previous vaccines might not protect you from this year’s strains. Each year new vaccines are created and released to defend against the adapted virus.
The flu shot works in a preventative way. The vaccine administered in the flu shot prepares your body to recognize the flu and fight it off. When you get vaccinated, your body’s immune system begins working immediately. Your immune system begins to create antibodies specifically designed to attack the virus. After generating the antibodies, your body can recognize the virus, remember the type of antibodies needed to fight the infection. Your body can then dispatch the antibodies to defend against the flu before it becomes an issue.
When do I need it?
The flu reminds us that it is still with us in the winter. It is best to be prepared, heading into the winter months by having your vaccine. An important part is to get vaccinated before the flu begins spreading in your community. It takes between 10-14 days before antibodies can be made to defend against the virus. The best time of year is mid to late fall. The CDC recommends getting your vaccine by the end of October.
If you haven’t already received a vaccination, don’t worry. The vaccine can be beneficial even into January.
Can I get the flu from the shot?
No. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. It is possible, however, to develop symptoms that might appear to be the flu. Not everyone reacts to the vaccination the same. It is possible to feel muscle aches or even a fever for a couple of days after receiving the shot. It’s important to remember that your body takes 10-14 days to create the antibodies necessary to fight the virus. It is possible to get the flu before your body has time to build the required defenses. Other illnesses can mimic the symptoms of the flu. It is possible to think you have the flu, while it can be the common cold.
How can I get along without it?
If you’re not getting a flu vaccine this year, here are some tips to keep you safe. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Hand sanitizers are always helpful if you don’t have access to washing your hands. The main areas the flu infects are your nose and throat, try to avoid rubbing your eyes, nose, and mouth. Regular good health habits will help your immune system. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, water, a nutritious diet, and stress management will help you fight back against the flu this year.
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