The Lowdown On Flu And The Flu Vaccine

young female doctor giving vaccine to a patient

As the Summer winds down and we head toward Fall you’re starting to hear and see adverts informing you to get your annual flu shot. For many, this raises a lot of questions so I’ll attempt to provide some quick and easy answers and compelling reasons to get yours. What is the flu? It’s defined by the World Health Organization as a viral infectious disease caused by the influenza virus with typical symptoms including: high fever, runny nose, muscle aches, sore throat, feeling tired, headache and coughing. In some cases it can lead to gastric or “tummy” distress like vomiting or diarrhea.  Apart from the discomfort related to these typical symptoms, there can be severe complications such as pneumonia, sinus infections, asthma, heart failure and even death!  The Flu season runs from early October and can go as late as May the following year.

How do vaccines work? Vaccines cause the body to form antibodies (your immune system) against the virus and these antibodies provide protection against the virus so as to avoid the associated infection. It usually takes about two weeks after the vaccine for the antibodies to form. Getting the vaccine does not guarantee 100% that you won’t get the flu but studies have shown that people who are vaccinated who do end up getting infected, tend to have much milder symptoms.

Can the flu vaccine cause me to get the flu? No, you do not get the flu from the flu vaccine. Mild allergic reactions are sometimes associated but this is few and far between.

Which type of vaccine should I take? Most vaccines provide protection against a variety of strains of the virus. Typically, the vaccine options will be either trivalent or quadrivalent. This means they will help the body form antibodies against both A and B types of the flu virus. Some vaccines take the form of an injection and others the form of a nasal mist. Ask your provider which type is best for you.

Who should get the vaccine? According to the CDC, everyone over the age of 6 months should get the flu vaccine every season. If you have severe allergies, especially to egg, speak with your health care professional as this can be potentially harmful. It must be emphasized that the vaccines are very safe.

What are the benefits of the vaccine? The more people that are vaccinated in a given community, the less likelihood of the virus spreading into epidemic proportions. The vaccine prevents the miserable symptoms of the infection and also the time and productivity lost in the work place and at school. The vaccine also helps prevent vulnerable people with chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and COPD from getting complications and serious illness. This means fewer expensive hospitalizations,emergency room visits and costly medical bills.

At Northshore we’re committed to providing excellence in affordable, convenient and innovative healthcare. All major insurances will pay for the vaccine (depending on eligibility) or pay $25 our self pay price (all participants receive a free health screening with vaccine). Come in today and get a head start on a journey toward health!

-Tim Gooding

GoodingStaff3Tim Gooding has managed several successful multi-disciplinary clinics in the Atlanta  area as well as his native country, South Africa.  In addition, Tim has over 8 years of teaching experience as an associate professor in the Health Services field at Life University in Marietta, GA and has received national awards for his peer-reviewed research and scholarly activity.

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