Answers to questions about the influenza vaccine (flu shot)

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1. Overview


Most people find various excuses to refuse flu shot; these excuses often sound like: “I had the flu and was not too bad”, “After the flu shot I’ll get sick”, “the flu shot contains toxic levels of mercury”, etc.

People that will consider these misconceptions and will not vaccinate against seasonal influenza may contact the latest strain of influenza and the disease may manifest quite unpleasant. Worse, it may be necessary even hospitalization.

Here are some reasons why a person should receive the flu vaccine:
- Flu occurs worldwide and can affect anyone, regardless of age or health condition;
- Flu not only that can lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infections or sinus infections, but it may also contribute to worsening of some existing conditions including asthma and diabetes;
- Every year thousands of people die from flu and its complications.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Is the flu shot a necessity?
3. Why is the annual vaccination required?
4. How strong can be the protection offered by a flu shot?
5. When is time for a flu shot?
6. Can I contact the flu after receiving an influenza vaccine?
7. If I’m pregnant, can I receive an influenza vaccine?
8. The flu vaccine contains thimerosal


2. Is the flu shot a necessity?

Most people, from children older than 6 months can be vaccinated at the beginning of each flu season. Despite the fact that many people tend to believe that they are seized of any sneezing, feeling cold, nausea, however, influenza is not a trivial disease.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized with flu diagnosis and tens of thousands of people die during flu season, regardless of the strain type of influenza. Generally, infants, elderly women, the mothers and people with chronic conditions (asthma or heart disease) are the most susceptible to influenza complications (including pneumonia).

Influenza is a serious problem for the health of adults and children, but it can be prevented. People can avoid doctor visits, unnecessary antibiotics and hospitalization by vaccination.


3. Why is the annual vaccination required?

Influenza virus is quite difficult considering that it reproduces differently every year from each season to another. This is why any person should be vaccinated annually – the strain that triggers influenza during a year will be different than last year.

Influenza is less predictable than measles or chickenpox that require immunization only during infancy for complete protection. These diseases are caused by a single strain of virus that does not change.

However, the researchers hope that annual influenza vaccination ritual to approach the end and to succeed finalize an universal flu vaccine that provide immunity against influenza for several years.


4. How strong can be the protection offered by a flu shot?

Every spring, public health experts worldwide anticipate which may be the three strains of flu virus that might circulate and could trigger the flu during next season. According to their predictions, the flu shot is renewed to protect against the three strains.

If the predictions are good, the vaccine will be effective in over 90% of healthy adults. Sometimes flu virus will be more advanced than experts expected and the strains found in the flu shot will be different to those of the flu that year.

However, the flu vaccine protects against three strains of influenza virus, so it likely to protect at least against a type of flu, which circulates in any season of that year.

In addition, when a person has been vaccinated against strains of influenza virus, the body will produce antibodies that will provide protection against similar strains, even if they are not exactly the same.


5. When is time for a flu shot?

Influenza vaccine should be administered when the vaccine is commercially available or can be found in the doctor’s office. Many people expect, unfortunately, until are recorder quite many cases of flu in their community. Influenza vaccine is transmitted quickly and will take effect in about two weeks.

Because the experts can not accurately predict when it will be the flu season, indicated would be to administer the flu vaccine starting in August and September, to provide protection against the entire season, even though it can persist until March.


6. Can I contact the flu after receiving an influenza vaccine?

Not the vaccine is the cause that will trigger flu – this is a myth. Scientifically and medically speaking is impossible to contact flu after receiving an inactivated flu shot because the viruses used in the vaccine are dead.

Most of the side effects of vaccination against influenza are quite mild: local discomfort at the injection site, low fever, etc. The chances of developing complications from flu are much higher.


7. If I’m pregnant, can I receive an influenza vaccine?

Yes, the flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women because of two reasons: firstly, pregnant women are more likely to exhibit a more severe form of influenza and to be hospitalized than women who are not pregnant; secondly, by administrating the flu shot in pregnant women, the unborn children will be protected for a six months period.


8. The flu vaccine contains thimerosal

Thiomersal ([DCI]) is a preservative that contains mercury, which can be found in the composition of certain vaccines. All vaccines that are designed for children do not contain thimerosal, but this substance is also found in some types of vaccines used in adults, including certain types of flu vaccines.

Researchers have studied this issue and found no link between autism and this preservative or other serious health risks. However, if this worries you, you can ask the doctor to recommend a vaccine that does not contain thiomersal.

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