flu shot

Flu Shots: Everything You Need to Know

Introduction

As we approach flu season, it’s essential to be informed about influenza and the benefits of getting a flu shot. The flu shot is a crucial tool in preventing serious illness and limiting the spread of infection. Here’s everything you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones.

 flu shot

Understanding Influenza

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and lungs. While many people experience mild symptoms, such as fever, dry cough, headaches, muscle and joint pains, and a sore throat, the flu can lead to severe complications for others, requiring hospitalisation and potentially leading to death.

Symptoms of the Flu

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the most common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Muscle pains and body aches
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Feeling tired or unwell
  • Headaches

Symptoms usually start one to four days after infection and can last from two to seven days. While most people recover without needing medical treatment, severe cases may require hospitalisation.

 flu shot

How is the Flu Treated?

For most people, bed rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter medication to reduce fever and aches are sufficient. In more severe cases, especially for those at risk of serious illness, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications. It’s important to note that antibiotics are not effective against the flu, as it is caused by a virus, not bacteria.

The Importance of the Flu Shot

The flu shot significantly reduces the risk of contracting the flu and helps prevent the spread of the virus to others. Dr. Noluthando Nematswerani, Discovery Health’s Chief Clinical Officer, explains that the flu shot stimulates the production of antibodies in the body, which protect against infection and serious illness. Each year, new vaccines are developed to match the most prevalent flu strains, ensuring the best possible protection.

Effectiveness of the Flu Shot

The effectiveness of the flu shot can vary, typically reducing the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60% in healthy adults. While this may not seem high, it is a significant level of protection that can prevent millions of flu cases annually. Moreover, the flu shot cannot cause the flu, as it does not contain live virus.

Common Misconceptions About the Flu Shot

1. The Flu Shot Can Cause the Flu:
The injected flu shot contains an inactivated virus, which cannot give you influenza. Any mild symptoms, such as aches or a slight fever, are a normal immune response and usually last only a day or two.

2. The Flu Shot Causes Severe Side Effects:
Severe side effects are extremely rare. One in a million people may develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), which causes muscle weakness and paralysis, but the benefits of the flu shot far outweigh these risks.

3. I Had the Flu Shot and Still Got the Flu, So It Doesn’t Work:
Several flu viruses circulate each season, and while the flu shot targets the most common strains, it’s still possible to contract a different strain. However, vaccinated individuals typically experience milder symptoms.

4. Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Get the Flu Shot:
Pregnant women are at higher risk of severe flu complications and should get the flu shot. The inactivated flu shot is safe at any stage of pregnancy and offers protection for both the mother and baby.

Who Should Get the Flu Shot?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends annual flu vaccination for:

  • Pregnant individuals at any stage of pregnancy
  • Children aged six months to five years
  • Elderly individuals (65+ years)
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions
  • Healthcare workers

Who Should Avoid the Flu Shot?

Certain individuals should avoid the flu shot:

  • Babies younger than six months
  • Anyone with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in the flu shot
  • Individuals with a history of severe allergic reaction to a previous flu shot

Where Can You Get Your Flu Shot?

Flu shots are widely available at healthcare providers and pharmacies. Be sure to call ahead to ensure availability. Most medical aids cover the flu shot, and some even offer rewards for getting vaccinated.

Conclusion

Getting the flu shot is a crucial step in protecting yourself and others from the potentially severe consequences of influenza. By staying informed and taking preventive measures, you can contribute to a healthier community.

About Zoie Health

Zoie Health is at the forefront of women’s wellness, offering quality, affordable, and accessible supplements tailored to the unique health needs of women. With a focus on synergy, Zoie Health’s products are designed to work together, providing your body with the comprehensive support it needs to thrive. With our online Zoie Shop and Pharmacy, our unique virtual consultations, and vast communities of women, we strive to provide good quality healthcare to underserved populations.

Sources: Discovery, CDC, WHO.

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