Flu Shots - How The Flu Vaccine Helps
Fall is here. Leaves are falling, school is in session, and holidays are being prepped. It’s also that time of the year again where we are entering flu season. Generally, the flu will affect between 9 million and 45 million people in the United States. Although the flu did not affect many people in 2020 due to COVID and COVID protocols, the flu has not gone away. If you are like most people, you will need to go to work, school, airports and other public places where you may come in contact with people who are infected with the flu. Having the flu is no fun and depending on your age as well as overall health condition, it could be detrimental. What can you do to limit your body's risk to the flu? One safe and effective way is to vaccinate yourself.
The influenza virus was first isolated in 1930. Once the virus was isolated, the first live-attenuated vaccine was created. At that time, scientists only recognized the influenza A virus. It wasn’t until 1942 that the influenza B virus was discovered. Another vaccine was developed for it but researchers realized that the virus kept mutating. In 1978, the first trivalent vaccine was developed providing vaccination against 2 of the influenza A strains and 1 of the influenza B strains. Since this time, the strains of both influenza A and influenza B have been updated each year to provide protection against the most current strains of the flu.
How The Flu Vaccine Works
The flu vaccine works by stimulating your immune system to build antibodies against the flu virus. A small protein from the virus is injected into your body. Your immune system recognizes the protein as being a foregin body and starts to build antibodies to destroy the protein. These antibodies don’t leave your system and will continue to fight against anything that enters your body with this protein. Thus making your body “immunized” against the virus. You will not get sick from the flu vaccine because it is not the protein that makes you sick but rather the virus as a whole.
How Long Will The Vaccine Work For?
The flu vaccine will only provide you with temporary immunity. Immunity from the flu virus generally will not last for more than 6 months. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first reason is that since your body is not continuously around the flu virus, your body will start to not produce the antibodies needed to fight the flu. When enough time has elapsed where your body is not fighting the flu virus, your body’s immune system will stop producing the necessary antibodies because your immune system recognizes that this virus is no longer a threat and the immune system is generally required to fight off other virus/bacterias that enter your body throughout a year. The second reason is that the flu mutates. This year’s flu vaccine will generally not have the right proteins in it to fight next year’s mutation. It’s kind of like trying to run Apple software on a PC. The core doesn’t recognize the code so it doesn’t know how to process it. An updated flu shot each year will allow your immune system to recognize the current viruses and respond accordingly.
Symptoms Of The Flu
If you have never had the flu before, trust us (and many others) when we say, it’s not like a day at the beach. The worst symptoms of the flu generally last 2-3 days. Once the worst symptoms have worn off, there will be lingering symptoms that can last up to 2 weeks. Symptoms of the flu can range from mild to severe and can include:
- Sore Throat
- Aches & Pains
- Death (in extreme cases)
If you believe that you have a severe case of the flu, you should consult your health care professional immediately.
How Can My Health Care Professional Help?
Your doctor or health care professional can assist you with recovering from the flu in many ways. The first thing they can do is to set up a treatment plan to help you recover from the flu. This plan will generally consist of bed rest and drinking lots of fluids but will also be tailored to your specific needs. Depending on where you are in the sickness and your personal health, a health care professional can also prescribe certain medications to assist with the symptoms of the flu and possibly eradicate it from your body. Although general suggestions can be made about flu treatment options, only your doctor or health care professional can advise on what’s best for you.
The other way that your health care professional can help is by providing you with a flu shot prior to flu season. Since the effectiveness of the vaccine is only about 6 months, it is recommended that you get your flu shot in October or November. This is the time that the flu virus starts to become more active as well as provide the vaccine enough time in your body to make it through flu season. To improve your chances of not getting the flu, get your flu shot.
The flu vaccine has been developed and continuously worked on for the last 80 years. This vaccine has been deemed safe by the FDA, CDC, WHO, and medical organizations across the globe. The best way to protect yourself from contracting the flu is to go and get your flu shot. Flu shots are widely available, cheap, and generally covered by insurance.
You can get your flu shot at any HealthCARE Express urgent care location starting October 15th, 2021. The health care professionals at HealthCARE Express can provide you with any additional information you need about the flu vaccine. If you are sick or have the flu, treatment options are also available. HealthCARE Express is here to assist you with most non-emergency room services. We look forward to assisting you and wish you a safe flu season.