Influenza Vaccine, Who Can Get, Risks and Myths: Influenza Vaccines or Flu Shots are vaccines used against the influenza viruses. The vaccine gets updated twice a year as the influenza viruses are changing rapidly. Though their effectiveness varies every year, most vaccines provide effective protection against the flu. If an immunised person does get the flu then the chances of their recovery are higher than the people who are not vaccinated at all.
There generally no side effects associated with the vaccines however some people can experience mild to moderate fever or temporary muscle pains. However vaccines should be avoided in people who have severe allergic reactions as they can develop an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
The vaccine can be applied through intravenous mode, sprayed into the nose or intradermal mode. The vaccine should be given to children and elderly as they are more at the risk of contracting the flu. You should get the Influenza vaccine during the peak season of Influenza which is usually September and October.
Influenza vaccine is used to build the immunity of a person against the influenza virus. The vaccine can be administered to anyone in any age group but with some precautions. The vaccine is available in two forms- inactive and weakened viral form. The inactive form has the dead influenza virus to trigger the development of antibodies against the flu.
The weakened form has the live virus but in a weak form so that it does not cause the disease but it can trigger the development of antibodies against the disease. The weakened form is not used in children below the age of 2 years, pregnant women, people over the age of 50 years or someone with a weakened immune system as it can lead to the development of serious complications in these people.
The article given below covers all the details regarding the Influenza vaccine, who can get the vaccine, the risks associated with it and the myths regarding the Influenza vaccine.
Who Can Get The Influenza Vaccine
Vaccinations are important for everyone but people who are at high risk of influenza complications should definitely get their vaccines on time. The first dose of Influenza vaccine can be given to a child after the age of 6 months.
- Children younger than 2 years of age
- Adults over the age of 50 years
- Healthcare professionals working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Pregnant women during flu season
- People who have chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes
- Obese people.
The vaccine can lead to the onset of fever and muscle pains in some people, especially small children, but the fever goes away after a day and does not lead to any complications in the people.
Risks of Influenza Vaccine
Though the vaccine is completely safe for administration it can lead to the development of some complications in people. The following people are more at the risk of developing the complications associated with Influenza Vaccine.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Heart Disease
- Brain or nervous system disorders
- Kidney or liver diseases
These people can develop a serious side effect or chemical reaction after the vaccination. An adverse reaction to the vaccine can be identified by the following features-
- Soreness, redness and swelling at the site of administration.
- Fever, muscle aches and headaches
- Irritability in infants
- Decreased motor function in the lower limbs which can be a sign of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- Fainting after vaccination although this is extremely rare
- Other symptoms of allergic reactions to the vaccine
Myths Associated With Influenza Vaccine
There are many myths surrounding influenza vaccines which can make people hesitant to receive their shots. These myths are just based on the rumours circulating around the vaccines and do not have a scientific ground to prove its validation.
- Influenza is not serious and I do need the vaccine- Influenza is a very serious condition as it causes 650,000 deaths in a year. These numbers only cover the respiratory deaths hence the effect of the virus is much larger. People who have compromised immune systems are more at the risk of developing complications.
- I can get flu from the vaccine- The Flu vaccine does not give you flu however you can get a fever and muscle pains after your initial dose. This is the normal reaction of your immune system as antibodies are being produced in your body against the virus.
- Flu vaccine has severe side effects- The flu vaccine does not have any severe side effects. However people who have weak immune systems can develop severe side effects. Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) can occur in a person after the flu vaccine but this is an extremely rare case.
- The vaccine does not work- You can still get the flu even if you are vaccinated. This is because the virus is constantly mutating and evolving. However, being vaccinated means that you will not develop any complications associated with Influenza and you can recover quickly from the disease.
- Pregnant women should not get the vaccine- Pregnant women should get the flu as during pregnancy their immune systems are weaker than usual. However they should only get the inactivated form of the vaccine.
FAQs Related to Influenza Vaccine
The Influenza vaccine is used to prevent infection by the Influenza viruses. This vaccine prevents flu which is a common ailment affecting anyone in any age group. However if an immunised person does get the flu then the chances of their recovery are higher than the people who are not vaccinated at all.
You should get the Influenza vaccine during the peak season of Influenza which is usually September and October. All the children above the age of 6 months and all the adults should get vaccinated with the flu vaccine in order to prevent it.
The Flu vaccine is the most definitive and effective method of preventing the Flu. You can also follow other precautionary methods such as washing your hands regularly, not sharing utensils and many more in addition with the Flu vaccine.