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December  2019

Flu Vaccine is the BEST way to protect against the Flu

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. The flu is a virus that causes respiratory symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headache, nasal congestion, fatigue or weakness and muscle aches (many people mistake stomach illness causing vomiting and diarrhea as the flu). Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Here are some frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine and the flu.

How do flu vaccines work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after receiving the vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against the flu. The vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common this year.

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 to expand protection against the flu to more people. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu such as adults age 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and young children.

When should I get vaccinated?

The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine before the end of October. You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in the community. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for continued protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated as needed to keep up with changing flu viruses.

Does flu vaccine work right away?

No. It takes about two weeks after receiving the shot for the antibodies to develop and protect you from getting the flu. If you come down with the flu within two weeks of getting the flu shot, then it is not the shot that gave you the flu. This is why it is important to get the vaccine before the end of October when the peak flu season starts.

Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?

Yes. It’s possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated, however you will not know for sure unless you get a flu test. This is possible for the following reasons:

  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you.
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated.

In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu




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