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Everything You Need to Know Before Getting a Flu Shot

Dec 20, 2023


Flu shot

Flu vaccines play a vital role in preventing influenza outbreaks. Inactivated or weakened forms of specific virus strains enable our immune system to create the necessary antibodies to fight off potential infections, thus protecting individuals from falling ill. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine is 40% to 60% effective in reducing illness, so receiving a flu vaccine should be prioritized. However, you may want to know more information concerning flu shots before getting them, like their purpose, effectiveness, side effects, types, etc. 

Let us discuss all that to help you make informed decisions.

Understanding the Flu

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Its symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also spread by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching the face. Flu seasons vary in severity, affecting millions worldwide annually. Vaccination, good hygiene, and avoiding close contact with the infected are vital in preventing its transmission.

Common Flu Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

The flu, or influenza, can cause symptoms that indicate a more severe illness than a common cold. It's important to pay attention to these signs because they might indicate a more serious condition. Common flu symptoms that should not be overlooked include:

  • Fever
  • Headache    
  • Dry, persistent cough   
  • Eye pain
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle ache
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Tiredness and weakness

The Purpose of Flu Vaccination

The purpose of getting a flu vaccine is to protect yourself and others from the flu virus. It safeguards against falling ill with the flu and minimizes the severity of symptoms if you get infected. Crucially, for vulnerable groups like pregnant women, elderly individuals, and those with underlying health conditions, vaccination reduces the risk of severe complications and hospitalization. 

Additionally, getting vaccinated doesn't just protect you; it creates a barrier against the spread of the flu, safeguarding those around you. It's an important step toward improving personal health, preventing widespread flu outbreaks, and upholding collective well-being. 

Types of Flu Vaccines

Flu vaccines come in different forms, each designed to protect against the flu virus in its way. Here are the main types:

1. Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (IIV): Given as a shot, it contains killed flu viruses.

2. Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV): Uses weakened flu viruses and is a nasal spray.

3. High-Dose Vaccine: Specifically, for older adults with a stronger immune response.

4. Adjuvanted Vaccine:  Includes an extra ingredient to boost the immune response.

5. Cell-Based Vaccine: Grown in animal cells, ideal for severe egg allergies.

6. Recombinant Vaccine: Made without flu viruses, an option for specific allergies.

Who Should Get a Flu Shot?

The flu shot is recommended for specific people:

  • Children under two years
  • Individuals aged 65 and older
  • People with weakened immune systems, asthma, chronic lung issues, heart problems, or kidney/liver disorders
  • Pregnant women
  • Healthcare workers in medical settings

However, there are groups that should avoid the flu shot:

  • Babies below six months old
  • Those who previously experienced allergic reactions to the vaccine
  • Individuals with severe allergies to specific vaccine components
  • Anyone feeling unwell during vaccination

How Effective Is the Flu Vaccine?

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary each year. Generally, its efficacy depends on how well it matches the circulating flu viruses. In some seasons, the vaccine can offer strong protection, reducing the risk of illness or making symptoms milder if you get sick. However, the match might not be as good in other seasons, affecting its effectiveness. Even so, getting vaccinated remains the best way to lower the risk of catching the flu and its severe complications.

Side Effects of Flu Vaccine

When you receive the flu vaccine, you might experience some side effects. These can include:

  • Possible Reactions: After your flu shot, you might notice mild side effects, such as soreness, redness, or swelling where you got the injection.
  • Temporary Symptoms: You could also experience a slight fever, body aches, or tiredness, but these usually don't last long.
  • Rare Severe Reactions: Severe reactions are rare but can happen. However, they are highly uncommon.
  • Benefits Over Risks: Remember, the benefits of getting vaccinated are much greater than the chances of these minor side effects.

Where to Get a Flu Shot?

You can get a flu shot from various places:

  • Healthcare providers: Your doctor or medical clinic offers flu vaccinations.
  • Pharmacies and clinics: Many pharmacies and health clinics provide flu shots.
  • Employer-sponsored programs: Some workplaces arrange flu vaccination programs for their employees.

Final Thoughts

As you are now aware of the flu vaccine’s purpose, types, recommended vaccines for specific age groups and health conditions, etc., you can make an informed decision concerning receiving flu shots. Getting vaccinated against the flu is important for protecting yourself and the entire community from the potentially severe consequences of influenza.

Get Safe and Affordable Flu Shots at Metro Urgent Care

At Metro Urgent Care, we offer affordable, high-quality, and painless flu vaccines to protect against influenza. With convenient locations in Chicago at 5406 W. Fullerton Ave. (773) 341-2897 and now also at 3235 W. Montrose Ave. (773) 669-0005, our expert team ensures swift and efficient flu shot services. Contact us today to ensure your well-being during flu season. Your health matters, and we're dedicated to keeping you safe.

Source: cdc.gov

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