The flu shot is a vaccine given to protect an individual from three or four influenza viruses which cause what is known as the flu. These viruses are common during the cold or winter season. The vaccine is developed twice a year, and yearly vaccinations are recommended. The vaccine is usually offered from September to mid-November, before the beginning of "flu season", from December to March. The vaccine is administered by a needle, usually in the arm. Studies have shown that the vaccine can be highly effective in preventing the influenza virus.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
Since the introduction of the universal flu vaccination in the US in 2010, every person aged six months and older can receive the flu shot. Nevertheless, some persons need to prioritize the flu shot since they are at a high risk of flu complications. These people include children under five years old but especially those under two years of age, elderly people of ages 65 or older, pregnant women, and residents of nursing homes. People who have certain medical conditions such as Asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, liver disorders, kidney disorders, weakened immuned (due to HIV or AIDS or cancer), metabolic disorders, and those with extreme obesity were also at a higher risk of the flu. Furthermore, the American Indians and Alaskan Natives should also receive a vaccination since they have a higher risk of flu infection.
Are There Any Side Effects?
There are a few side effects which may occur to one who receives the flu shot. Side effects include soreness or redness where the shot is given, runny nose, sore throat, low fever, and aches. Some people may also experience temporary muscle pains and fatigue. Some people experience allergic reactions. In any case, if a person experiences severe allergic reactions to the flu shot they should see a doctor immediately. The flu vaccine should not be administered to persons with a history of severe allergies to previous shots. Additionally, people who have severe allergies to eggs should also avoid it.
Misconceptions About the Flu Shot
A common misconception is that a flu shot will infect an individual with the flu. The truth is that the flu shot does not spread flu. The component of the vaccine may either be “inactivated” flu vaccine virus or no flu vaccine virus at all. None of these forms of viruses have the capability of infecting someone with the flu.
Manufacturing of the Flu Shot
Manufacturers grow the flu vaccine in fertilized chicken eggs. As soon as the WHO announces the recommended strains for the winter flu season, the manufacturing process begins in the Northern Hemisphere. Three strains namely H1N1, H3N2, and a B strain are selected to prepare the vaccine. Apart from the method that uses eggs, there is another method of generating the flu vaccine. This method involves the construction of influenza virus-like particles (VLP).
Normally the flu vaccine comes in various forms such as those injected into a muscle, injected into the middle layer of the skin, and the vaccine sprayed into the nose. However, for the period of 2017-2018, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises against the use of nasal spray flu vaccine.