I hate the flu and I have strong feelings about flu, because in 1918, the Spanish flu that killed 500,000 here in the United States and 50 MILLION people around the world, killed both my father’s parents and his four brothers the same night.
So yes, I HATE the flu!
What is flu?
The flu (or common flu) is a viral infection that is spread from person to person in secretions of the nose and lungs, for example when sneezing. Medically, it is referred to as influenza. Flu is a respiratory infection, that is, an infection that develops primarily in the lungs. Respiratory infections caused by other viruses often are called flu, but this is incorrect. Influenza usually causes higher fever, more malaise, and severe body aches than other respiratory infections. Although other viruses may cause these symptoms, they do so less commonly.
Why vaccinate for the flu?
The flu is highly infectious and is a serious viral respiratory infection. Whereas with other viral respiratory infections the symptoms usually are mild and most people can continue working or going to school while ill, with the flu, the symptoms are severe and prolonged and cause individuals to miss days of work or school. The infection stresses the body. In addition, super infections may occur. Super infections are bacterial infections that occur on top of a respiratory infection. Bacterial respiratory infections also are a serious type of infection, and the simultaneous viral and bacterial infection can overwhelm the function of the lungs and the body.
For those who do not agree with getting the flu shot
You ARE wrong. Some people say, “The flu shot GIVES me the flu!” Well, SO WHAT? If you are so weak that a flu shot makes you sick, a full blown influenza infection will certainly send you to the hospital! Missed work ($) Doctor’s bills ($$) Hospital bills ($$$)!!
What is the flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are routinely available for seasonal influenza, but these vaccines are not likely to be protective against flu caused by the novel H1N1 (formerly termed swine flu) virus. A vaccine against the novel H1N1 flu is in production as of summer 2009 and may be ready for administration in fall of 2009.
There are two types of seasonal flu vaccines, the injection (with killer virus) and nasal spray vaccines (containing live but weakened virus).
The vaccine is generally effective against the influenza virus within two weeks of administration. The vaccine is only effective against the strains of the virus that match the vaccine. These strains vary from flu season to flu season each year. This is the reason that revaccination is required annually with the vaccine that matches the strains of influenza that are currently prevalent.
Flu vaccination does not protect against infection caused by microbes other than the influenza virus.
When is flu season anyway?
Flu season can begin in October and last as late as May. October and November are considered the best times to receive the vaccination, but it is still effective when administered later.
The injection (“flu shot”) vaccine
Flu vaccine is an inactivated vaccine, meaning that it contains killed influenza virus. The killed influenza virus is injected into muscles and stimulates the immune system to produce an immune response (antibodies) to the influenza virus. When the virus enters a person who has been vaccinated, the antibodies attack and kill the virus and prevent infection.
Who should receive the flu vaccine?
While anyone who wishes to reduce their risk of getting the flu can be vaccinated, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that certain groups of people (who are at risk for serious complications from the flu) be vaccinated each year. When vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, the CDC makes recommendations for priority groups of people who should receive the vaccination. The CDC recommends vaccination for the following groups:
• Children aged 6 months up to 19 years of age
• Pregnant women
• People 50 years of age and older
• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including
o health-care workers,
o household contacts of people at high risk for complications from the flu,
o household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated).
Who should not receive the flu vaccine?
Those who should avoid the flu vaccine include
• people with a history of allergic reactions to chicken eggs
• those with a history of hypersensitivity to the vaccine,
• infants less than 6 months of age,
• those with recent febrile (having fever) illness (although you can be vaccinated if you have a cold or other mild illness without fever),
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine is dependent upon the extent of the match between the virus strains used to prepare the vaccine and those viruses in actual circulation. The age and health status of the individual also play a role in determining the effectiveness of the vaccine. Research has shown that when there is a good match between the virus strains chosen for the vaccine and those in circulation, the vaccine prevents influenza illness in approximately 70%-90% of healthy adults under 65 years of age.
What does that mean? Well, really it means ONE – they GUESS what exact virus the flu shot is for. The better they guess, the better it works. And TWO – the healthier you are the better it works (because all it is doing is training YOUR OWN BODY to fight the virus.
So after all this, what do I have to say in closing? simply this: