Does everyone have to take the flu shot every year or is once every few years enough? Also, it is really necessary to take it at all? These are one of the most hotly debated topics every year just before the flu season starts and with so many myths and misconceptions doing the rounds it is really difficult to know what is the best thing to do.
What Does The Flu Vaccine Do?
Flu is caused by the influenza virus, which is very active during the months between November and April. With so many people getting sick during this period, it has become known as the ‘flu season’.
About 2 weeks after you take the vaccine, it starts to create antibodies in the body. These antibodies help the body to resist the virus and protect you from getting infected. During the two weeks incubation, you are still susceptible to catching the flu. Because of this, it is advisable to get a shot early on in the season and not to wait till too late as you could be vulnerable.
According to the CDC, in the year 2012 – 2013, an estimated 79,000 hospitalizations were prevented by the vaccine and more than six million people were protected from any type of flu-related symptoms.
Why Taking The Vaccine Once Is Not Enough
Although the influenza virus is prevalent around the same time every year, it is not the same strain that causes infections. Every year, a new strain becomes active and new vaccines are developed to combat the new variant. Taking the shot one time will only help you stay protected during that particular flu season. It does not protect you following flu season. You need to take a new shot to protect you against the virus that is active for that year.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccine diminishes after a period of time so the level of protection decreases. This is another reason to take the flu shot every year.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Many people believe that they can get the flu from the vaccine itself. This is not true. You cannot get the flu from taking the vaccine. However, some people may experience a few minor side effects.
The most common adverse effects include:
• Localized swelling, soreness and redness at the site of the vaccination
• Low grade fever
• Mild body ache
All of these are very mild and only last a day or two. There are no serious side effects to taking the flu vaccine.