Flu shot is influenza vaccine. Vaccines are given to prevent a particular disease. Influenza is highly infectious respiratory tract disease caused due to influenza virus. The disease can cause mild to moderate sickness, but in rare cases it can give rise to serious complications with high rate of mortality.
Young children, elderly individuals and people with compromised immunity are at a greater risk of suffering from complications. Considering the above facts, the best way is to prevent influenza in first place. It can be achieved by taking flu shots every year. Everyone from the age of 6 months to elderly individual can be vaccinated against influenza, unless the vaccine is contraindicated due to vaccine allergy.The vaccine has to be taken every year.
Pros And Cons Of Flu Shots
Every vaccine has its pros and cons. Flu shot also has the same. Let us know what they are.
Flu Shot Pros
- Flu shots can decrease mortality from influenza: millions of people suffer from influenza every year. Though the disease is prevalent throughout the year, it is more virulent from October to April. There is high rate of mortality, especially when disease leads to complications in people having low immune level. Flu shot provides immunity against the disease and is useful to reduce mortality as well as morbidity amongst masses.
- Flu shots contain inactivated or killed virus strain. After taking the injection, it does not cause flu nor does it pass the flu to anyone else.
- Flu shot can be administered from the age of 6 months to elderly people. Previously there was concern about thimerisol (a preservative used in vaccine) regarding its linkage with autism in children. But recent research has shown there is no such link between autism and thimerisol present in flu shot. The important fact nowadays is that, vaccines given to children in United States are devoid of thimerisol. Vaccines free from this preservative are also available for adults.
- The flu shot is effective in people having increased risk of suffering from influenza complications. They can be given to pregnant women as well as people having compromised immune conditions such as HIV, cancer etc.
- Flu shots are easily available in all pharmacies.
Cons Of Flu Vaccine
- The vaccine may not give 100 percent safety in healthy adults. Since there are many strains and fast replications and change of DNA pattern in flu virus, the vaccine gives protection against the most dominant strain of virus during that season. However the risk of complications decreases to a great extent.
- People, who are allergic to egg, may be allergic to flu shots. This is because flu virus is grown in chicken eggs. If you have an allergy to eggs, than you should talk to your doctor before taking flu shots.
- Flu shot is effective 2 weeks after it has been administered. Person might catch flu if he is exposed to influenza virus during this window period of two weeks.
- There may be minor side effects such as redness, swelling and pain at the site of injection. Occasionally there may be low grade fever for a day after the flu shot.
Ingredients And Effectiveness Of Flu Shot
Since many people may have allergies to the contents present in flu shots, it is necessary to know the ingredients present in flu shots. The use of ingredients may vary from one manufacturer to another. However the basic ingredients are:
- Growth medium which include egg protein.
- Detergents such as polyethylene, octoxynol-10.
- Inactivating agents for viruses such as beta-propionolactone, formaldehyde, etc.
- Buffer solutions for stabilizing, such as sucrose, arginine, gelatin.
- Preservatives such as thimerisol.
- Killed influenza virus.
Flu Shot Effectiveness
The effectiveness of flu shot depends on many factors. It may depend on the age of a person, the season in which you take the shots, and associated medical conditions if any. It is possible that flu shot may have reduced effect in people who are obese and overweight.
Though, flu shots may not give cent percent protection against multiple and fast replicating strains of influenza virus, in most cases it gives satisfactory prevention. It may be effective in reducing the intensity of the symptoms and give some relief. Flu vaccine is important in reducing the mortality and morbidity arising from influenza disease, as against not taking the vaccine.