Influenza or flu is a very infectious disease that is characterized by respiratory infection that can even lead to death if left untreated. There are other types of viral respiratory infections with milder symptoms, and an infected person can still resume his or her normal activity like going to work and school. However, with flu, symptoms are most of the time serious and will cause a person to stay in bed for a longer time. A flu infection can put a lot of stress on the body. This is the reason why health experts recommend the influenza vaccine.
A detrimental condition called superinfections that can happen to a person if he or she develops a bacterial infection alongside respiratory infection. When both serious health conditions occur at the same time, then it will overwhelm the lungs and the immune system as well. It can even lead to death for children and the elderly.
1. Who should acquire a vaccine for influenza?
Everyone is encouraged to have a flu shot from as early as 6 months old up to the elderly. It should be done every year as part of routine vaccination for children up to late adult age. It is important to get the vaccine as viruses that causes flu can change over time, so vaccines are updated to provide immunity.
Some people are at risk of developing complications from flu, so they are advised by doctors to get vaccines yearly or as needed. Pregnant women or women who are planning to have a baby should consider influenza vaccine. Also, elderly ages 65 older and children younger than two years of age are required to have a yearly dose of this vaccine. People suffering from a long term health condition such as cancer, diabetes, and asthma can benefit from this vaccine.
Aside from age and health conditions, the level of risk of an individual is also an important factor to consider for giving a flu vaccine. This is essential for all healthcare professionals as well as caregivers who are susceptible to getting infections.
2. Who should not acquire a vaccine for influenza?
Some factors may hinder you from getting a vaccine for the flu. Those children younger than 6 months must not be administered with the vaccine. Also, you need to get a doctor’s approval if you have an allergic reaction to egg or gelatine as this is an ingredient found in the vaccine. Also, conditions like Guillain-Barre Syndrome which is a known immune system disorder should ask for doctor’s approval. People who are currently sick should wait until their symptoms subside to get the flu shot.
3. Possible Side Effects
The side effect of the influenza vaccine is very mild and most of the time will go away untreated after a day or few. Side effects that a person may feel are not flu, but a reaction of the immune system to the vaccine. Some side effects are headache, muscle pain, stomach upset, swelling, and redness of the part where the shot was administered and fever. Serious side effect from the flu vaccine is rare and just like any medication, there is a very little chance that a person will develop an adverse reaction.
4. Types of Influenza Vaccine
The first is the flu shot which has an inactivated influenza virus that is injected deep into the skin muscle to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the influenza virus. The vaccine is given by a certified healthcare professional in the form of an injection in the deltoid muscles located at the arm with the use of alcohol for sterilization.
Today, there are two types of this vaccine such as the trivalent that contains three virus strains and the quadrivalent with four virus strains. There are specialized vaccines for people ages 65 years old and older with a higher immune system response.
Aside from injection, there is a nasal-spray influenza vaccine that was first introduced in 2003. It has the same strain of viruses with the flu shot but differs because it contains weakened live viruses and it is administered through a nasal spray. It is advisable for people with a fear of needles or injections.