5 Things to Know About the Flu Vaccine

Getting the flu is one of the most unpleasant experiences that you can have as your head pounds, you have little energy, you cannot swallow due to your sore throat, you head is warmer than normal, and your nose won’t stop running, but there are several things you should know about the flu vaccine before you decide to get one. Looking to protect yourself against disease is admirable, and this does tend to help, but it’s not that simple.

Flu Shots Give You the Flu

The way that vaccines work is that you are injected or otherwise introduced to a minuscule amount of the flu virus so that your body will produce antibodies to fight and eliminate those germs. This results in you being immune to that strain so that you will not become sick with it when your body is introduced to the real thing. Another interesting thing to know about the flu vaccine is that it does take a couple of weeks to take effect, so if you become infected with the full version of that strain during that time, you might still experience the full-fledged flu.

You might like: Top 10 Best Online Health Science Degree Programs

You May Not Be Protected Against the Flu Strain Going Around

One thing to know about the flu vaccine that many do not realize is that those determining what goes into it are making their best educated guesses on what to protect against, depending on which strains they expect to be most significant in the coming months. It’s also important to note that flu viruses do adapt and change, and you could still be hit by one that researchers had not had a chance to incorporate into a vaccine.

However, It Does Generally Work

Although some people may have adverse reactions or end up not protected against the strain they are introduced to, flu vaccines do lower overall rates of people getting sick with this disease, seeing their doctor or going to the emergency room and missing school or work. It’s also important to know that a flu vaccine that keeps you from contracting this very contagious disease will also greatly reduce the chances of you passing it along to somebody else. Note that you can pass on the disease for about 24 hours before you experience any symptoms and that you can also be a carrier and pass it on without ever experiencing any symptoms.

When Should I Get It?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people get a flu vaccine by late October, but those who miss that recommended timeline are still encouraged to get one as soon as possible after that point. This is because flu season tends to run from October to May although it is focused on December, January and February. Fortunately, it tends to be pretty easy to get one as many pharmacies tend to offer them.

What Else Can I Do?

As noted above, flu vaccines do not protect against every strain out there. For that reason, you will want to take other preventative actions to reduce your chances of contracting this disease. Simply washing your hands on a regular basis can do a lot. It also helps to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands if they have recently touched anything other people have recently touched such as door handles. Also limit your interactions with sick people so that you don’t catch what they have.

Fortunately, we are in an age where we can get vaccines for diseases like the flu. However, it is important to also keep in mind the various things that you should know about the flu vaccine to help maximize your protection against it.