A Shot at Avoid­ing the Flu

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Ti­fani Ki­nard Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter

Each year around this time, as tem­per­a­tures be­gin to fall, we’re faced with a de­ci­sion to make: should we get a flu shot? While the shot may not pro­vide to­tal pro­tec­tion, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) of­fer sev­eral com­pelling rea­sons why you should get one.

In­fluenza, what we com­monly call the flu, is a re­s­pi­ra­tory con­di­tion that can cause se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions. Young chil­dren and older adults are es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble and are at the great­est risk for hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. While flu vac­cines are not 100 per­cent ef­fec­tive, they do of­fer the best pro­tec­tion.

The CDC of­fers the fol­low­ing ad­di­tional guide­lines:

Who should get a flu shot?

The CDC rec­om­mends that every­one six months of age and older be vac­ci­nated ev­ery year. It’s also im­por­tant that peo­ple who are at higher risks of com­pli­ca­tion be vac­ci­nated. This group in­cludes preg­nant women, older adults and young chil­dren.

The CDC also strongly rec­om­mends the vac­cine for peo­ple with the fol­low­ing con­di­tions: Asthma Chronic lung dis­ease such as COPD and cys­tic fi­bro­sis Di­a­betes

Heart dis­ease Kid­ney or liver dis­or­ders

HIV, AIDS or can­cer Ex­treme obe­sity

If you have an egg al­lergy or if you’ve had a se­vere re­ac­tion to a pre­vi­ous flu vac­cine, it’s im­por­tant that you talk to your doc­tor be­fore re­ceiv­ing one this year.

Why do I need a flu vac­cine ev­ery year?

A flu vac­cine is needed ev­ery sea­son for two rea­sons. First, the body’s im­mune re­sponse from vac­ci­na­tion de­clines over time, so an an­nual vac­cine is needed for op­ti­mal pro­tec­tion. Se­cond, be­cause flu viruses are con­stantly chang­ing, the flu vac­cine is re­viewed each year and up­dated as needed to keep up with chang­ing flu viruses.

Can I get the flu even though I got a flu vac­cine this year?

Yes. It’s pos­si­ble to get sick with flu even if you have been vac­ci­nated (al­though you won’t know for sure un­less you get a flu test). This is pos­si­ble for the fol­low­ing rea­sons:

You may be ex­posed to a flu virus shortly be­fore get­ting vac­ci­nated or dur­ing the pe­riod that it takes the body to gain pro­tec­tion af­ter get­ting vac­ci­nated. This ex­po­sure may re­sult in you be­com­ing ill with flu be­fore the vac­cine be­gins to pro­tect you. Flu vac­cines usu­ally take about two weeks for an­ti­bod­ies to de­velop that of­fer pro­tec­tion.

You may be ex­posed to a flu virus that is not in­cluded in the sea­sonal flu vac­cine. There are many dif­fer­ent flu viruses that cir­cu­late ev­ery year. A flu vac­cine is made to pro­tect against the three or four flu viruses that re­search sug­gests will be most com­mon.

Un­for­tu­nately, some peo­ple can be­come in­fected with a flu virus the vac­cine is de­signed to pro­tect against, de­spite get­ting vac­ci­nated. Pro­tec­tion pro­vided by flu vac­ci­na­tion can vary widely and is par­tially de­pen­dent on the health and age of the per­son get­ting vac­ci­nated. In gen­eral, a flu vac­cine works best among healthy younger adults and older chil­dren. Some older peo­ple and peo­ple with cer­tain chronic ill­nesses may de­velop less im­mu­nity af­ter vac­ci­na­tion.

Flu vac­ci­na­tion is not a per­fect tool, but it is the best way to pro­tect against flu in­fec­tion. If you have any ques­tions or con­cerns about re­ceiv­ing the vac­ci­na­tion this sea­son, please con­sult your physi­cian. If you don’t have a fam­ily physi­cian, the flu vac­cine is avail­able at sev­eral lo­ca­tions through­out Polk County, in­clud­ing all Floyd Ur­gent Care of­fices.

Ti­fani Ki­nard is the Hospi­tal Ad­min­is­tra­tor and Chief Nurs­ing Of­fi­cer at Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

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