Currently, many people are calling and messaging their doctors, and even going into hospitals to inquire about getting a flu shot. Many have the impression that they need to get a flu shot to protect themselves from COVID-19, however vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not protect against the coronavirus.
This strain of virus is so new and unique that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers from all over the world are trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, and World Health Organization is supporting their efforts.
Why do we still need a flu vaccine?
Influenza is one of the most common illnesses in the world. It affects both young and old, and in some cases, it can be deadly. Every flu season is different, and the influenza infection can affect people differently. Thousands of people are hospitalized, and up to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related symptoms every year.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has shown to have many benefits, including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and the threat of flu-related death in children.
How do vaccines work?
The flu vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that fight the flu virus. When the virus enters a vaccinated person, the antibodies attack and kill the virus and prevent infection.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Most flu vaccines in the United States protect against four different flu viruses (“quadrivalent”), an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses. Some flu vaccines protect against three different flu viruses (“trivalent”); an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one influenza B virus. Two of the trivalent vaccines are designed specifically for people 65 and older to create a more robust immune response.
What are the side effects?
The most common side effect of the flu shot is a reaction at the injection site, which is typically on the upper arm. After the shot is given, you may experience soreness, redness, warmth, and in some cases, slight swelling. You might have headaches or some achiness and pain in the muscles throughout your body. You may also experience dizziness and/or fainting. The good news is that these effects usually last less than two days. If you tend to get dizzy or faint when getting a shot, be sure to tell your doctor before getting a flu shot.
When should one receive the flu vaccine?
Health care professionals recommend getting the influenza vaccination before flu season begins. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to produce sufficient antibody response against the flu.
11You should make plans to get vaccinated in early fall, before flu season begins. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting protected later can still be beneficial, and vaccination is still offered throughout the flu season.
Getting vaccinated very early (for example, in July or August) is associated with reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season, particularly among older adults. However, children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
Do you have more questions about the flu shot? Get in touch with The Village Doctor today.