To prevent yourself from developing a respiratory disease caused by a virus such as Influenza, it is important to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu. Protecting yourself from flu also protects the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
Flu vaccination can help protect people who are at greater risk of getting seriously ill from flu, like older adults, people with chronic health conditions and young children (especially infants younger than 6 months old who are too young to get vaccinated). Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick and can reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes, like hospitalizations.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way. The vaccine itself does not become the cause of a flu- it is made from a dead virus that simply stimulates the body to produce antibodies in case the virus does strike at any point.
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that are short lasting and mild may occur including:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
Side effects are, hence, minimal and it is tested as it has been administered to a trillion people worldwide. Commonly, it does not even cause much local reaction or soreness. Rarely, people can get a severe local reaction – and if so, should not get it again.
There is still a possibility you could get the flu even if you got vaccinated. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on various factors, including the age and health status of the person being vaccinated, and also the similarity or “match” between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those circulating in the community, that might have mutated to more dangerous strains.
Flu viruses are constantly changing (called “antigenic drift”) – they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time. Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating viruses and the viruses in the vaccine.
If the viruses in the vaccine and the influenza viruses circulating in the community are closely matched, vaccine effectiveness is higher. If they are not closely matched, vaccine effectiveness can be reduced.
However, it’s important to remember that even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications. Such protection is possible because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can provide some protection (called cross-protection) against different but related influenza viruses.
It’s not possible to predict with certainty which flu viruses will predominate during a given season. Over the course of a flu season, CDC studies samples of flu viruses circulating during that season by looking at their genetic and antigenic properties to evaluate how close a match there is between the viruses recommended for vaccine production and circulating viruses.
For our practice, the Pediatric Pulmonary Associates anticipates the arrival of our vaccine in more or less late September. There is no shortage anticipated this year. Patients can receive their vaccine at at a usual visit or can make a “vaccine only” appointment. PPA is also able to give the vaccine to non-patient parents, grandparents, and siblings at a cash charge of $35.
The vaccine that will come out this September is composed of Flu viruses that were isolated in the Southern hemisphere right now and has been grown on chicken embryos. So by the time the PPA’s flu vaccine is distributed, the virus will have mutated as such that 20% (on average) will not be in the vaccine. PPA uses QIV (quadrivalent inactivated virus) which is CDC recommended for the 2016-2017 season.
It is important to note that we recommend no patients to use the nasal flu treatments because they have been shown to be not only ineffective but could even cause a minor flu illness. Another important note is that if a child is under 9 years old and it’s their first flu vaccine, then they must get two doses of the vaccine this season that are only a month apart. If your child has never received two doses, then this year it is highly recommended that they do so.
PPA provides the standard quality flu shots and hence, there is no need for you to worry when you put your health in our hands.
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