Everyone has heard of, has had, or knows someone who had influenza, aka “The Flu.” The flu is caused by the influenza virus, and causes high fever, severe muscle aches, cough and just general misery. If you’re unlucky enough to be infected with the flu, you pretty much have to suffer through it just treating your symptoms with fluids, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and bed-rest (please see my previously written article on the treatment for flu). Therefore, this is one of those times when an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Being a viral illness, vaccination is the best way to protect oneself from the flu. Vaccines work by taking advantage of the body’s immune system and its ability to “remember” infectious agents. When you get an infection, your body makes antibodies to fight the immediate infection and makes memory cells that will be used if you encounter that infectious agent in the future.
The flu shot is made up of small pieces of the flu. When your immune system encounters these pieces, it develops memory cells against it, so, if you are infected with the flu in the future, your immune system is already primed to fight it. However, it takes two to four weeks for the immune system to develop those memory cells. Therefore, you should get your flu shot now, so, by the time the flu is in full-swing, you’ve already developed the immunity. Some people may worry that they may get the flu from the vaccine, but, since it’s only pieces of the flu, it can’t cause a full infection. Some people may get the flu, even after the flu shot. That can happen for a few reasons. It may be that the person’s immune system didn’t have time to develop immunity. It could be that the strain of flu is different enough from those pieces in the vaccine.
Regardless, those that get vaccinated generally have a much less severe case of the flu than those who are unvaccinated. And, no matter what Dr. Jenny McCarthy says, you will not get autism from the influenza vaccine. Most people that get the flu with recover just fine. But, some will not; specifically, the elderly and the very young. To make matters worse, these are the same people whose immune systems might not react to vaccination as well as others. By getting as many people vaccinated as possible, we develop a herd immunity, which can help to protect these people as well. Many facilities offer flu shots for free or almost free with insurance. So, don’t delay. Call us to get your flu shot today! Trust A+ Urgent Care for your needs.