What You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine

Woman getting a flu vaccineMany vaccines offer immunity for life, but a flu shot is required every year. This is because each flu season is significantly different from the last.

Does the Flu Shot Really Work?

Influenza viruses change constantly, either abruptly or gradually, so there’s no guarantee that you won’t suffer from it if you get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, states that being vaccinated would lower your risk of contracting the flu by 40% to 60% when the vaccines are matched properly with the flu viruses during that season.

In addition, renowned family physicians from one of the top health clinics in Miami, FL state that the flu shot would protect approximately 2/3 of individuals who are vaccinated. However, different factors like age, your immune system, the type of flu virus, and past flu vaccines would also play a significant role.

Although the flu shot is not 100% effective, individuals who are vaccinated have fewer chances of developing flu complications than those who weren’t vaccinated. Even in seasons when the flu shot wasn’t matched well with the prevalent flu viruses, it would still offer some protection since your immune system could still produce antibodies that would recognize and attach to the virus if a new influenza strain suddenly emerges.

Who Should Be Vaccinated?

According to the CDC, people who are six months and older should be vaccinated before October ends. Kids aged six months to eight years old might require two doses in one flu season. Select individuals (below) are strongly recommended to be vaccinated annually:

  • Individuals six months or older who have weak immune systems, certain blood disorders, kidney failure, diabetes, or chronic lung or heart conditions
  • Individuals who live with children below six months (because these children can’t get a flu shot yet)
  • Healthcare providers
  • Individuals who live in nursing homes
  • Adults 50 years old and above
  • Pregnant women

Who Should NOT Be Vaccinated?

Children below six months and individuals with severe allergies to the ingredients of flu vaccines should not get flu shots. If you’ve ever had Guillain Barre Syndrome or is allergic to eggs, you must inform your doctor prior to being vaccinated.

The main thing to remember is that the flu vaccine is currently the most effective way to prevent contracting influenza, but you need to consult with your doctor first.