Multiple Benefits Are Gained When You Get Your Annual Influenza Vaccine
Should you get a flu shot this year? Yes! say the Pegasus home health care specialists in West Los Angeles and elsewhere. They know you gain multiple benefits when you get your annual influenza vaccination.
Frequently called “the flu,” influenza is a respiratory infection that’s caused by a virus. It’s a minor annoyance for some individuals. It’s deadly for others, especially if they are older, have a weak immune system, or a chronic disease.
Colds and the flu have many of the same symptoms. The primary difference is that flu symptoms appear quickly, while colds develop more slowly. Colds aren’t usually life-threatening, but the flu can be.
The viruses that cause influenza are transmitted as droplets through the air. The droplets are spread when contagious people expel them as they cough, talk, or sneeze. People are contagious the day before they develop symptoms and up to a week after symptoms appear.
The influenza viruses can live up to 48 hours on some surfaces. They survive longer on hard surfaces than they do on soft surfaces. However, most transmission is via person-to-person, especially if they touch one another.
Influenza Vaccine Reduces Your Risk
Vaccines have been developed that prevent or reduce the symptoms of the flu. To date, scientists have not yet created a “once and done” vaccine. Every year requires a vaccine that differs from those in previous years.
Viruses are living organisms, and they are continually changing, or mutating. Although each mutation is small, each is enough to modify the structure of the virus. That means a new vaccine is required each year to match the new virus strains.
Scientists try to predict what strain will dominate each year and develop a vaccine against it. Sometimes the new, or “seasonal,” vaccine isn’t a good match. That’s because no one knows for sure which flu strain will be dominant until the flu season is underway.
Vaccines take about six months to produce. The influenza vaccine is generally available by the end of August. Individuals usually get vaccinated in September and October, before flu season starts.
If you or your loved one aren’t vaccinated by the end of October, don’t skip it as being “too late.” Although early is typically better, it’s never too late. The flu season lasts through February and sometimes longer.
Some individuals refuse to get a flu shot because the vaccine doesn’t always keep them from getting the flu. It’s true that the vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu 100% of the time. But it’s also true that the vaccine lessens the severity of the symptoms if you do get the flu.
Others erroneously believe that getting a flu shot gives them the flu. Some people do experience flu-like symptoms for a couple days after getting the injection. That’s just their body producing antibodies against the virus.
Some Benefits May Surprise You
For most individuals, the benefits of getting a flu shot outweigh the discomfort. As well as keeping you from getting the flu, or a mild case, it also:
- Keeps you out of the hospital
- Keeps your other medical conditions from getting worse
- Shortens your stay or keeps you out of ICU if you are hospitalized
- Prevents exposing others to influenza
Most important, getting a flu shot can help keep you from being one of the thousands of people who die each year from influenza.
Influenza Vaccination and Dementia
Mercury is used as a preservative in the flu vaccine. Excessive mercury can be toxic, and some believe that it contributes to the onset of dementia. If this is a concern, talk to your physician about receiving the nasal spray vaccine, which does not contain mercury.
Recent studies (July 2020) demonstrated that receiving the influenza vaccination actually reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The research additionally confirmed that Alzheimer’s patients have a high risk of dying from infections such as the flu. The influenza vaccination appears to protect individuals from dementia and reduce premature deaths in those who have the disease.
Even one vaccination in the elderly is beneficial in reducing their risk of Alzheimer’s. However, the individuals who benefitted the most began receiving annual vaccinations by the age of 60.
COVID-19 And The Flu Shot
COVID-19 is a virus-caused disease. That’s led to the misconception that getting the flu shot might give someone COVD-19. Entirely different viruses are responsible for influenza and COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated against influenza helps protect individuals from having the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. A flu shot doesn’t protect against the coronavirus.
However, very preliminary research indicates that the influenza vaccine may stimulate non-specific infection-fighting molecules. It’s possible that those molecules can be effective against the coronavirus. More research is needed for confirmation.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our home health care services in West Los Angeles and our other locations include helping you get your flu shot. We don’t want you to miss out on the multiple benefits provided by your influenza vaccination.