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January 17, 2019 | Family Medicine
Have you gotten your flu shot? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this vaccine is the best protection against the flu. Because every flu season is different, you should get vaccinated each year. Read on for answers to common questions patients have about the flu shot.
The influenza virus, which causes the flu, was discovered in the 1930s. World War II soldiers received the first flu vaccine in 1945. In 1946, the flu shot became available to the public. However, the CDC did not begin recommending vaccination for all Americans until 2010.
Some people only experience minor flu symptoms. But for others, this virus is severe. It can cause hospitalization, disability and even death.
Within two weeks of getting the vaccine, the body develops antibodies. These substances protect against the flu virus strains in the shot.
Side effects of the flu shot are usually minor. Contrary to common belief, the shot does not cause the flu. However, you might have a headache, upset stomach, fever or muscle aches after getting the vaccine. Another side effect is pain or redness at the injection site. Serious side effects are rare.
The CDC recommends vaccines for everyone age 6 months and older. People who have an egg allergy should generally not get a flu shot. The vaccine is also not safe for people who have Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Early vaccines covered influenza A and B, two strains of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) began targeting the most widespread strains in 1973. Today, each year’s shot is updated with three strains of the virus. It usually combines two A strains with one B strain.
The vaccine for the 2019 flu season protects against strains H1N1 and H3N2. These are A strains. The latter has been especially severe. It also protects against influenza B.
Visit your doctor if you still need to get a flu shot. It’s best to get your shot by the end of October. However, protection is important even late in the flu season. Contact your doctor’s office to make an appointment.
“.The History of the Flu Shot and Some Common Misconceptions.” Fortune. http://fortune.com/2018/01/19/flu-shot-history/
“The Flu Outbreak Has Peaked but Still Has Weeks to Go.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/health/flu-season-facts.html
“Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Flu (Influenza).” Vaccines.gov
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.