The Science Behind the Flu Shot - ConvenientMD

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The Science Behind the Flu Shot

 

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Dr. Debra Margolis

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OVERVIEW

Fall is on its way—are you ready for this year’s flu season?

Like it or not, the gorgeous weather we’ve seen in and around New Hampshire this summer will soon be replaced by scattered leaves and falling temperatures. While some are dreading the scraping and shoveling that winter brings along with it, others—especially parents—find themselves full of anxiety about the approaching flu season. Aches, pains and fever can be enough to knock someone out of commission for an entire week, and more often than not, the flu hits with little to no warning whatsoever.

Fortunately, simply getting a flu shot can be enough to provide both protection and peace of mind against the flu, and the more you understand about how it works, the better you’ll sleep at night.


How the Flu Vaccine Works

While people are told time and time again that they should get a flu shot every fall, few realize how the vaccine actually works. Interestingly enough, the shot actually provides the body with a strain of flu virus, which allows the immune system to begin producing antibodies—proteins that are capable of recognizing and fighting germs once they’ve entered the bloodstream. Over a period of 10-14 days, the body eventually builds immunity to the strains of virus present in the vaccine.

Most flu vaccines protect against three specific strains of the virus:

1. Type A:

Type A flu virus can be serious if left unaddressed, as it is the strain most likely to mutate. Many flu pandemics began as a result of Type A flu, including the 2009 outbreak of H1N1 (swine flu).

2. Type B:

Type B flu tends to affect children more often than adults. It is considered to be a less severe strain of the virus, though Type B can still be responsible for causing widespread outbreaks.

3. Type C:

Type C is the weakest and most common strain of the flu virus, typically causing symptoms akin to those of a bad case of the common cold.


Flu vaccines change every year so as to include the latest and most threatening strains of the virus. Contrary to popular belief, however, the included strains are not live. Instead, the strains are grown within hens’ eggs prior to the viruses being deactivated (killed), purified and then prepared for inclusion. Since the vaccine is effectively dead upon injection, the myth that the flu shot can actually cause the flu is entirely invalid.

Should You Get a Flu Shot?

In a word…Yes! Despite what many people may think, the flu is actually quite dangerous and causes as many as 500,000 deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organization. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to complications due to severe cases of the flu, making an even greater case for vaccination. Though myths about the flu shot tend to begin circulating around this time every fall, the vaccine has been in use for over 60 years and is considered by health experts to be both safe and effective.

So don’t leave yourself or a family member susceptible to the nasty effects of the flu virus this fall and winter. The flu shot is a quick, safe way to protect against the virus and represents the best practice in prevention. ConvenientMD offers free flu vaccines to all patients regardless of if they have insurance or not. Visit any of ConvenientMD’s nine locations today to get vaccinated and enjoy a worry-free fall.

 

Resources and Sources:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/10/10/354627818/32-myths-about-the-flu-vaccine-you-dont-need-to-fear

11 thoughts on “The Science Behind the Flu Shot

  1. I just read your article and searched the patient services link “Free Flu Vaccines”. The article says “everyone” would be able to receive a free vaccine, however when I clicked on the “Free Flu Vaccine” link on the Patient Services tab there was a segment listing who should get vaccinated.

    Please explain if everyone is eligible, or just the individuals in the listing.

    1. Hi Nancy, thanks for your comment! It is true that anyone over the age of six months could get a free flu shot at our clinics. However, it is not recommended that patients with the below qualities should get a flu shot:

      Children under 6 months of age
      If you are allergic to eggs
      If you had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past
      If you have a moderate or severe illness/fever, you should wait OR people who have a moderate or severe illness/fever should wait

  2. I am a senior and I have been getting a flu shot since my 40’s. I wouldn’t even consider not getting a flu shot. I know at my age I do NOT want to get the flu.
    I do have a cold or two each year though. I really hate to hear from people that they get the flu even though they get a flu shot each year. I’m not sure they know what the flu is.

    1. Hi Mary, thanks for your comment! There is no difference between the “flu” and “influenza” virus. The flu is simply an abbreviation of the influenza virus!

  3. I work in a health care facility and am required to get a shot every year. If I get exposed to the flu, can my husband who refuses to get a shot and on disability at home still get it from me even if I don’t get it?

    1. Hi Christine, thank you for your comment! We unfortunately do not carry flu vaccines that don’t contain traces of eggs at any of our clinics.

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