Flu season is coming, and to keep from overburdening hospitals already strained by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to get your family a flu shot.
Getting a flu shot goes a long way, especially this time where most people are going back to work and classes are starting again. It’s difficult to get sick due to the risk of getting COVID19. Your body needs all the protection to refrain from getting sick and from the flu itself.
However, a lot of people are still hesitant about getting the flu shot. Don’t let false “facts” and conspiracy theories leave you and your family unprotected.
Today, let’s take on long-standing and newly circulating misconceptions about the flu shot and offer must-know advice on how to stay safe during a uniquely dangerous flu season.
Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine
While the country remains focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, we also need to be aware of flu season as we approach winter.
Long before the pandemic, we already had influenza (flu) viruses typically spread in fall and winter, with activity peaking between December and February. Getting vaccinated can lower your chances of getting the flu and, even more so, the risk of getting COVID19.
With that said, it’s also best to know that every flu season is different. The substantial health impacts can vary widely from season to season, with some seasons being worse than others, hence the Pandemic.
Today, let’s eliminate the myths you once know about the flu vaccine and the key facts why you should get the shot now.
How Do Flu Vaccines Work
Antibodies due to flu vaccines develop in the body two weeks after immunization. These antibodies protect against viruses used in vaccine production.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that are most likely to be encountered this season. Most flu vaccines in the US protect against four flu viruses: influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and two influenza B viruses. Some flu vaccines (trivalent) protect against three different flu viruses: influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B. Two of the trivalent vaccines are designed to boost the immunological response in seniors.
Flu seasons and their severity are unpredictable. Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza in people ages 6 months and older.
Who Should Get the Vaccine
With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should have influenza (flu) vaccine every season. Since the 2010-2011 influenza season, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has made this recommendation.
Vaccination to prevent flu and its potentially catastrophic symptoms is especially important for persons who are more likely to develop major flu complications.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
Various influenza (flu) vaccinations have been licensed for use in various age groups. Furthermore, certain vaccines are not advised for particular categories of people. A person's age, health (current and history), and any sensitivities to a flu vaccine or its components are all factors that can affect a person's appropriateness for vaccination or immunization with a certain vaccine.
It’s still best that when you get the flu shot, you should do it with a reliable doctor who knows your medical history as well.
When should I get vaccinated?
You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses spread in your community since antibodies take about two weeks to form in the body and provide protection against flu. Make preparations to be vaccinated early in the fall before the flu season really out.
The CDC advises people to receive a flu shot by the end of October. Getting vaccinated early is expected to be related with lower protection against flu infection later in the flu season, especially among older persons.
Vaccination should be provided throughout the flu season, especially if it extends into January or later. Children who require two doses of vaccine to be protected should begin the immunization process sooner, as the two doses must be administered at least four weeks apart.
Most importantly, we had COVID19 all throughout the year. This should be enough reason for you to get the flu shot for your family as well.
Special Consideration Regarding Allergy
Some people are hesitant to get the vaccine because of one thing – their reactions. Especially if they have existing allergies. But this is something you shouldn't worry about.
People with allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine (IIV4, RIV4, or LAIV4) that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe allergy should get the vaccine in a medical setting, with healthcare supervision supervised who can recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.
Essentially, you would want to get your shot through a reliable doctor to evaluate you and your allergies better.
Other Reactions After Getting the Shot
Flu vaccine side effects are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Some side effects that may occur from a flu shot include:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling on the arm
- Headache (low grade)
- Muscle aches
The nasal spray: The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include:
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
- Fever (low grade)
In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Flu Vaccine and Covid-19 Vaccine
Now, this is where most people are wondering — what’s the difference?
Now let’s talk a little bit more about the flu vaccine and how it relates or differs from the COVID19 vaccine.
Does a Flu Vaccine Increase Your Risk of Getting COVID-19
There is no evidence proving that getting the flu shot increases anyone’s risk of getting coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19
You may have heard a lot of speculations about this on the study about the association between flu vaccination and the risk of four commonly circulating seasonal coronaviruses, but not the one that causes COVID-19. This study was later found to be incorrect.
How to Prepare for the Flu Shot
Though you should get a flu shot regardless if you're able, these are four factors that can make it as effective as possible this year. Also, to better help you prepare yourself and your family in getting the shot.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Another way to ensure your immune system is in tip-top shape to make the most of the flu shot is to get plenty of sleep. It’s the most important thing that you can do before getting your vaccine shot.
Those who didn’t get adequate sleep are more likely to come down with a cold than those getting more than seven hours a night. Immune system repairs and builds itself while we sleep, so it’s less equipped to utilize a vaccine when we aren't catching enough goodnight sleep.
2. Exercise and Move Around
Essentially, it’s important that you also get enough exercise to keep your body healthy and ready for the flu vaccine. Staying physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of chronic illness, which can make you more susceptible to complications of the flu.
3. Keep Your Gut Healthy
While no foods provide an instant immunity ′′boost,” a nutritious diet can assist sustain a healthy immune system. Specific foods, notable probiotics, can be very beneficial in keeping you healthy and able to fight off sickness. Make sure to consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, yogurt, and fermented foods to keep your body fed and ready to absorb the flu vaccination.
Getting the flu shot is essential for staying healthy through the changing seasons, especially this year. The timing of your vaccination and an overall healthy lifestyle can help you get the most effective prevention.
Also, make sure you consult with a reliable medical professional who knows your medical history to ensure that you are getting the right jab for you.