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Flu shot vaccine: What is it and why should you get it?

Coronavirus has been the highlight of the year 2020. It has effectively sent the world in a frenzy and shifted the outlook of the healthcare sector. Every single person has been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. People have become apprehensive of even common viral infections and rightly so. While the battle against COVID is ongoing, we cannot afford to fall sick. The advent of winters during a pandemic calls for the need of flu shot vaccine.  

In this article, Dr Tushar Tayal, head of internal medicine at the CK Birla Hospital, offers his insights on the relevance of influenza vaccines during the chaotic times of coronavirus. 

What is a flu shot vaccine?

Before we discuss the importance of flu vaccination, let us first grasp an overview of what flu is all about. 

Common flu (influenza) is a viral infection that occurs during the months of winters. This infection mostly affects the respiratory system which includes your nose, throat and lungs. 

The symptoms of common flu include-

  • Mild to high-grade fever
  • Throat discomfort or itching
  • Running nose or nasal congestion
  • Dry cough or cough associated with phlegm
  • Body ache
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Every patient experiences these symptoms differently. It is not necessary that every flu patient develops a fever. Most of the time, influenza symptoms alleviate on their own. However, if the symptoms persist, common flu can turn into potentially serious illnesses resulting in hospitalisation. 

Flu infection is of two types – Type A and Type B. Most infections are associated with Type A influenza. 

A flu shot vaccine, as the name denotes, is a vaccination that provides protection against the influenza virus. 

You can avail exclusive flu shot package @ INR 2100 only at the CK Birla Hospital.*

Who should get a seasonal flu shot vaccine?

The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended to people of all age groups (above the age of 6 months). This vaccination is to be given once every year. 

The importance of influenza vaccines has increased because of coronavirus which also has flu-like symptoms. The overlap in the signs of common flu and COVID makes it difficult for healthcare providers to distinguish between the two. 

How long does the flu shot vaccine take to work?

After at least two weeks of getting a flu vaccine, your body begins to develop antibodies to fight the infection. Healthcare providers recommend taking influenza vaccines almost two weeks ahead of the seasonal flu. 

In India, the ideal time to take a flu shot is during September. New vaccines against the current strains of flu also become available in the market at this time. 

However, it is never too late to protect yourself from viral infection. If you have missed taking the seasonal flu vaccine in September, you can avail it now at the CK Birla Hospital. 

Which flu shot vaccine is suitable for me?

There are majorly three variations of influenza vaccines available in the market – trivalent flu vaccination, quadrivalent flu shot vaccine and nasal flu vaccine. 

All these vaccines are equally effective. However, these vaccines protect against a different number of strains of influenza. 

Your physician will decide which vaccine is most suitable for you after assessing your overall health and age. 

How effective is a flu vaccination?

A seasonal flu shot decreases your chances of developing severe illnesses. It is especially important in the case of elder people. 

People over the age of 50 are predisposed to multiple ailments such as diabetes, asthma, heart diseases, high blood pressure among others. Due to preexisting health concerns, they are more vulnerable to developing severe effects of influenza. Influenza vaccines provide significant levels of immunity and protection to the elderly. 

The seasonal flu shot is essential for people living with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and young children. 

All three categories of influenza vaccines are very potent. However, no vaccination offers 100% protection against the infection. 

Are there any side effects of a seasonal flu shot?

No, the seasonal flu vaccine does not pose any serious side effects or risks. 

Some people may develop a mild or low-grade fever after receiving the flu shot. The fever can lasts up to 2 days. While some others may experience light pain or swelling at the site of infection. 

Does a flu shot vaccine protect against coronavirus?

No, flu vaccination does not protect against coronavirus. While the vaccine for mysterious coronavirus is still being researched, you can protect yourself from common flu. 

It should be noted that influenza and COVID-19 are two different types of viruses which can affect a person at any time. It is possible that a person may catch both the viruses at the same time. In such a rare case, the severity of the symptoms may be extreme. 

It is, therefore, advisable that you should get the seasonal flu shot during this ongoing pandemic. 

Tips for safety from seasonal flu

Basic preventive measures and hygiene maintenance are important from protection of seasonal flu. Here are some expert-approved tips to safeguard you and your family from infections-

  • Wear a face mask while stepping outside your home 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water 
  • Sanitise your hands regularly if soap is not available 
  • Practice social distancing outdoors
  • Clean your home and surfaces that are touched frequently
  • Consult your physician and get a flu shot immediately 

Watch the video to know the answer to some frequently asked questions about Flu Vaccination by Dr Tushar Tayal, head of Internal Medicine department at the CK Birla Hospital.

The concluding note 

The flu shot vaccine is an important preventive tool against influenza. Besides protecting against common flu, vaccinations improve your immunity and drop your risks you are developing other illnesses. 

You can avail our exclusive seasonal flu shot package @ INR 2100/-. Book an appointment with Dr Tushar Tayal at the CK Birla Hospital for more information. 

Also, read: Fever | Common causes and when should you worry?

Dr Tushar Tayal
Author: Dr Tushar Tayal
With more than 14 years of experience, Dr Tushar Tayal is an Internal Medicine specialist and Intensivist/Critical care specialist. His expertise lies in managing patients with infectious diseases, diabetes, thyroid disorders, hypertension, respiratory and critical illnesses.
 
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