If you’d like to know the answer to ‘does the flu shot work’, the vaccine can provide moderate protection from influenza. But, as no vaccine is 100% effective, there is no guarantee that you will not develop flu. If you have your flu shot however, your chances of getting it are reduced and if you do get it, your symptoms are likely to be milder than if you were unvaccinated. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine is administered by injection, with the aim of helping people to develop immunity against influenza.
Influenza is highly contagious and it affects the airways of the body, making it especially dangerous for certain high risk groups. These risk groups include pregnant women and babies, people over the age of 65, and people who have compromised immunity due to other illnesses. These people can develop cases of flu that are so severe they need to be hospitalised.
The flu can worsen pre-existing medical conditions. It can also cause high fevers and lethal cases of pneumonia. It is very easily transferable through the air and through contact, so when it gets into a community it can spread very fast.
Every year a few hundred people die as a result of developing flu. In after a particularly severe flu season in 2019 health experts predict that at least 4000 people will die from the flu.
What Are The Benefits Of The Flu Vaccine?
Reduce your chances of getting flu
People who have the flu shot are less likely to get the flu. Despite your best efforts at eating a healthy diet, having regular exercise and getting good rest, the flu vaccine offers the most effective way to protect yourself.
Protect your community
Flu vaccines also help you to protect your broader community as well, by developing what’s known as herd immunity.
Herd immunity protects the high risk groups mentioned above and prevents a disease from infiltrating a community. Getting vaccinated is a service to those around you too.
It’s estimated that 5 to 10% of Australians get the flu annually, and in some communities this figure can increase to as many as 20%. It is possible to carry the flu virus and pass it on, without developing the symptoms yourself.
You won’t develop the flu from the vaccine
The flu vaccine doesn’t contain a live virus so you won’t get the flu. If you do experience flu-like symptoms these are probably a reaction to the vaccine, and not a mild case of the flu.
How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine?
It is recommended that everyone have the flu shot once a year. The vaccine takes about two weeks after injection to give you protection, and offers protection for the full flu season. Its protection peaks three to four months after receiving it.
Every year the virus mutates into a different strain and each vaccine is strain-specific. Flu season lasts from July to October with a peak during August but any time of the year is suitable to be vaccinated. If you would like to time your vaccination with the peak of flu season, the best time to do it would be in early autumn.
Because of this year’s increase in flu cases, experts are reminding consumers that it isn’t too late to be vaccinated for 2019. If you haven’t had your vaccine this year, it is highly recommended that you do, because there is still some time left in flu season and there have been many reported cases.
If you have had a flu shot this year, there is no reason to get a second vaccine. There is no evidence to suggest that a second flu vaccine offers any benefit to immunity.
Pregnant women may be vaccinated against the flu during any stage of pregnancy, and are eligible to receive free vaccines. It is really important that pregnant women are vaccinated because they can pass immunity on to their unborn babies. Babies younger than six months cannot receive the vaccine, so it’s essential they get immunity from their mothers.
Free flu vaccines as part of the NIP
There is a large portion of Australians who are entitled to receive a free flu shot as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Six million vaccines have been made available by local government, for free to certain groups.
These groups include:
- Adults who are over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- Adults and children who have certain medical conditions. Examples of these medical conditions include kidney disease, heart disease, chronic neurological conditions, chronic respiratory conditions.
- Aboriginal people
It’s not too late to be vaccinated. To find out more about how you could benefit from the flu shot or to make an appointment with a friendly healthcare professional, please contact us: (02) 9159 6903.