#FightFlu 2017: Awareness · NJ Vaccine Provider Finder · Treatment Tips: (NJ Dept. Health)
Source: Huffington Post
Influenza vaccine, though not perfect, is the best way to prevent flu. But if you have always avoided vaccination and have never had the flu, you may wonder, “Why do I need a flu shot?”
Your luck may run out. People who have never had the flu are very fortunate. But flu viruses mutate every year, so even if you did not get last season’s virus, you may still succumb to this season’s.
The symptoms feel awful. After you are exposed to an influenza virus, it takes about two days to develop symptoms, which, unlike those of a cold, come on suddenly. Flu symptoms include high fever, cough, and severe muscle aches and pains, which usually last three to five days. After these symptoms resolve, you may still feel extremely weak, and it usually takes another week or two to build up your strength.
Even healthy, young people can die from complications of flu. Complications can be mild, like a painful ear infection, or severe, like bacterial pneumonia or encephalitis. Having severe influenza increases your risk of hospitalization and death. I once took care of a healthy 18-year-old high school senior who had not had a flu shot. Sadly, he came down with influenza, and died of flu-related pneumonia. The risk of complications drastically increases for older people, even those in their 50s and 60s.
You can have the flu and not know it. Only half of people infected will actually have symptoms. You can be completely asymptomatic and unaware you are infected, but still have the virus in your body and still be capable of transmitting it to others.
You’ll help your loved ones. In addition to protecting you, getting a flu shot also protects your family—especially vulnerable children and grandparents—as well as your friends, coworkers, and everyone else with whom you come into contact.
Anyone who is 6 months of age or older should be vaccinated, especially those at high risk of complications from flu, such as young children, older people, pregnant women, people with a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease, and those with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication like chemotherapy. A study published recently in the journal Pediatrics showed that vaccination significantly reduces children’s risk of dying from influenza.
It is impossible to catch the flu from a flu shot because vaccines are made either from dead influenza virus or are cell-based, meaning they just contain some genetic material, not the whole virus. A flu shot does not offer protection immediately; it takes up to three weeks for your body to make the antibodies that protect you against influenza. So when people say they got the flu right after having the shot, it means they were exposed to the virus before they developed immunity.
People 65 or older should get a high-dose flu vaccine. As we age, our bodies need more stimulation to make antibodies, so with a stronger dose, you have a better chance of responding to the vaccine. The down side is that you may be more likely to have a sore arm after getting the shot.