How do flu vaccines work?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body, which provide protection against infection. It takes the antibodies approximately two weeks to develop. The vaccine contains a tiny amount of the virus that the body needs to fight. This tiny amount spurs the body to develop those antibodies.
Every year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that are anticipated to be most common during the upcoming season based on scientific research.
Traditional flu vaccines are made to protect against three flu viruses;
1. an influenza A (H1N1) virus,
2. an influenza A (H3N2) virus,
3. an influenza B virus.
Why should people get flu vaccinations?
People think of the flu quite lightly. Actually, the flu is the Influenza virus and can be a potentially serious disease that can can lead to hospitalization or even death. The spread of the flu virus is seasonal and every season is different. The influenza infection can also affect people differently, some can be only slightly ill and some seriously. Millions of people get infected with influenza every year and hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized. Unfortunately tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and flu-related death in children.
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over others?
Although there are various types of influenza vaccines, the Center for Disease Control doesn’t distinguish that one is better than another during the current flu season. Any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine is recommended. This can change from year to year and it is advisable to check with the CDC or your physician’s office annually about the recommended age and type of vaccination.
Who should get vaccinated this season and who should not?
Typically it is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people. For example, people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza are strongly urged to get a flu vaccination, as it may be very important to prevent influenza for them.
There are some instances when a flu vaccine is contraindicated, or not recommended, and some instances where a vaccination is strongly recommended. Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups. Furthermore, those who live with people with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or who have other reasons for a compromised immune system. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components.
If you are unsure whether or not to get a flu vaccine, ask your doctor.
When is the best time to get a flu vaccination?
Before the flu virus begins to spread in your area you should get a flu vaccination. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body. The CDC generally recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccines are offered however, even into the month of January as they are considered beneficial throughout the season.
In cases where two vaccinations are required (with some children’s vaccines), it is best to vaccinate early as two to four weeks are required between the injections.