Influenza (known more commonly as the flu) is a viral respiratory condition that people get as frequently as the cold, which has many similar symptoms. Like the cold, it often resolves on its own with a combination of bed rest and over-the-counter medications, but unlike the col,d there is a vaccine available for different strains each year. In the 2019-2020 flu season, nearly 52% of people over six months got the vaccine, which is the highest number in about a decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the vaccine prevented over 7 million cases of flu, curtailing about 105,000 hospitalizations and 6,300 deaths by their estimates.
But what happens if you get the flu before you go to get the shot? How effective is the vaccine then? Will it help, or make you more susceptible to another flu infection? To help with these questions, let’s look at what the flu vaccine is, how it helps, and who should avoid the shot.
Residents of the Little River, South Carolina area looking for ways to manage a flu infection or other upper respiratory conditions can get help from Dr. Rogers Walker and the skilled medical staff at Walker Urgent & Family Care. We offer diagnosis and treatment for many acute and chronic conditions with compassion and great care.
What is the flu vaccine?
Because the flu is a virus that mutates into different strains over time as people’s bodies try to fight it, the seasonal vaccine people receive annually is designed to treat multiple strains based on what researchers believe will be the prominent variations of the condition that year.
There are different types of vaccines for people based on the needs they have at different ages, including the Afluria Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, and Fluzone Quadrivalent shots. Most are administered in an injection, but jet injectors are available for various types of vaccines.
How does it help?
Flu shots contain an inactive form of the virus (or a weakened form for nasal shots), which allows the body to develop antibodies that improve your ability to fight off the virus and its symptoms. This process often takes up to two weeks after vaccination, and even if you get the flu afterward, the vaccine will help reduce the symptoms and overall effects of the infection.
Although you may suffer some side effects after getting the vaccine (tenderness or swelling around the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache), the shot will not give you the flu. The vaccine is the most effective method of combating the virus.
Should anyone avoid the vaccine?
Although everyone older than six months old should get the vaccine, there are people who may have medical conditions or allergies to specific components of the vaccine that may need other forms of vaccination. Additionally, people who are already sick with a moderate or severe upper respiratory illness may want to hold off until the condition improves before getting the vaccine.
If you’re dealing with mild cold-like symptoms, such as coughing, congestion, or headache, you should still get the vaccine as it won’t affect your body’s response to the shot. If you’ve had the flu already, getting the shot can still provide benefits to strengthen your immune system and protect against other strains of the condition.
The flu can be treated, and multiple vaccines are available for people of different age groups. Even if you’ve had the flu already, getting vaccinated is a good idea and when you’re ready for vaccination, contact Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care to get treated.