Having the flu vaccine can protect you, your family, and other vulnerable members of your community. While the influenza vaccine is not 100% effective at preventing the flu, it can minimise your risk if you do get it. Given the fact that we are living in a global pandemic, and given the strain that the health system is under, it is socially responsible to have a flu vaccine. Let’s take a closer look at flu vaccine effectiveness and how it may protect your health.
Who Should Have A Flu Shot?
The Australian government recommends that everyone older than six months should have a flu vaccine every year. This is to offer maximum protection because the flu virus mutates and can be resistant to last year’s vaccine. Because there is no accurate way to know who will contract influenza, the safest behaviour is to protect yourself and the people around you by having the influenza shot.
Every year thousands of people are hospitalised because of complications from the flu. Even though humanity has been dealing with the virus for so long, it mutates and can cause unpredictable hospitalisations, complications and death as well as costly medical bills.
What Are The Symptoms Of Flu?
Influenza presents differently in people, but in general, most patients report
- Muscle pain
- Sore throats or cough
Treatment for the flu is generally symptomatic and most people recover without intervention. However, having a depressed immune system could make you more susceptible to contracting Covid-19.
When Should You Have A Flu Shot?
Flu vaccine effectiveness is at its strongest three to four months after you have had the shot. This is because it takes your body some time to build up an immune response. The flu season usually runs between June and September every year so the ideal time for maximum protection against the flu is to have your shot during April or May.
Will The Influenza Vaccine Give Me Flu?
No, the flu vaccine is not a live vaccine so you will not contract influenza because of the vaccine. You may experience some mild side effects that may include
- Aching muscles
The side effects may begin a few hours after you have the influenza vaccine and may last for a day or two.
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Does It Work?
Flu vaccine effectiveness is estimated to prevent the virus in six out of ten healthy adults, so while there is no guarantee that you will not develop the flu, your chances of staying healthy are very good. If you compare this to the possibility of needing hospitalisation or even sudden death, it makes sense to have a flu vaccine. If you do develop the flu, your symptoms are likely to be much milder than if you were not vaccinated. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine is also only quantified in healthy adults, and it is the less healthy community members who need to be taken into consideration.
As we are also living in a time of Covid-19, local governments would like citizens to be responsible and considerate and to manage their own risk, in an effort to avoid placing the healthcare system under strain. While the influenza vaccine does not protect you against Covid-19, getting both viruses would be very taxing on your system and making an effort to protect yourself can make a difference to everyone around you.
Even though you may be sanitising, restricting your social movements, wearing a mask, and practising social distancing, having the flu vaccine can provide you and the people around you with valuable protection.
How Effective Is An Enhanced Influenza Vaccine?
People who are over the age of 65 are frequently administered an enhanced influenza vaccine which is designed to stimulate an increased response from the immune system. This is because older people’s immune systems do not respond as readily to the standard flu vaccine.
Being vaccinated protects other, vulnerable members of your community who may not be able to have the flu or Covid-19 vaccine. It’s your duty to ensure all family members are protected. Examples of the more vulnerable members of the community include
- People who are over the age of 65
- Babies who are younger than six months
- Pregnant women
- People who have existing health conditions such as heart problems, cancer, cystic fibrosis, asthma, AIDS, diabetes and blood disorders.
Will A Second Influenza Vaccine Offer Added Protection?
It is not necessary to have a second flu shot in the same season unless your general practitioner advises otherwise. The vaccinations are formulated to respond to seasonal mutations and should offer protection for the entire season. You must have a vaccine every year in order to protect yourself against seasonal mutations.
How Do You Get The Flu Shot?
The government is running an immunisation program that makes the flu shot freely available to certain community members. You can enquire about a vaccine from your general practitioner, closest clinic, or pharmacy.
To find out more about flu vaccine effectiveness, and what you can do to boost your overall health and wellness please contact us for an appointment: (02) 9159 6903.