Is the flu shot the best way to avoid influenza?
Getting the flu shot often protects you from coming down with the flu virus. And although the flu shot does not always provide total protection, it is worth getting!
It is not possible to predict what a flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable and vary yearly. While the flu spreads every year, severity, timing, and length of the season varies from one season to another. Flu viruses are continuously changing so it is not very unusual for a new virus to appear each year. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. This is the most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While many different flu viruses exist, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season.
Individuals should begin receiving vaccinations soon after the flu vaccine becomes available. It is ideal to be vaccinated by October to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before the flu season begins. Just remember, it takes about 2 weeks after receiving the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take preventative actions like staying away from individuals that are ill, and washing your hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs. If you are already sick with the flu, stay home from school or work to prevent spreading the flu to others.
Flu Shot, Not Just For You
Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available in their communities. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications and their close contacts. Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Children 6 months to 8 years old may need 2 doses of the flu vaccine to be fully protected from the flu. Consult with your child’s physician to tell you whether or not your child will need the 2 doses.
All of the 2014-2015 flue vaccines are made to protect against the following 3 viruses:
- an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus
- an B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus
Vaccines that protect against the 3 influenza viruses are called trivalent vaccines. Some of the 2014-2015 flu vaccines also protect against an addition B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). The vaccine that protects against the 4 viruses is called quadrivalent vaccines.
Can you still get the flu even if you have been vaccinated?
Yes, this is possible for the following reasons:
- You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in illness with the flu before the vaccine has started to protected you.
- You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included with the seasonal vaccine. The flu vaccines are created to protect you against the most common 3 or 4 vaccines that circulate annually.
- Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus that the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection by the flu vaccine can vary widely based partly on health and age factors of the individual. Some older individuals and people with chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it is the best defense from the influenza virus.
Flu vaccines are available at Premier Physicians Weight Loss and Wellness in Las Vegas but also available at many doctors offices. health departments, clinics and pharmacies.
2650 Lake Sahara Dr. Ste. 100
Las Vegas, NV 89117