On an average year in the U.S., influenza leads to more than 200,000 hospital admissions and 30,000 deaths. In a particularly severe flu season, influenza resulted in nearly 1 million hospitalizations and 79,000 deaths in 2017-2018.
The good news is that many cases of the flu can be prevented by getting a flu shot. Here’s everything you need to know about this important vaccination.
1) The Flu Shot Is Approved for Ages 6 Months And Up.
There are several forms of the flu shot, including low-dose formulas for children as young as 6 months old, high-dose formulas for adults over the age of 65 years old, and everyone in between!
2) The Flu Shot Is Recommended for All Pregnant Women.
Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommend that pregnant women, regardless of which trimester they’re in, receive the flu shot to protect themselves and their fetuses.
3) It Takes 1-2 Weeks to Build Up Immunity Once You Get the Flu Shot.
While rates of influenza usually peak from November through February, influenza can begin circulating in the U.S. much earlier in the fall. Since it takes 1-2 weeks to build up immunity to influenza once you get the flu shot, it’s wise to get the vaccine as early in the fall as possible to make sure you’re protected. However, the flu shot protects against the flu for about 6 months, so it’s important to not get your flu shot too early – early October is the recommended time to receive your flu vaccination.
4) You Can’t Get Sick From the Flu Shot.
Many people are reluctant to get the flu shot because they believe that the vaccination can give them influenza. While the flu shot can cause mild headaches, body aches, and low-grade temperatures for a few days, as your body’s immune system develops antibodies to the virus, the vaccine cannot cause an active influenza infection, since it contains an inactive form of the virus.
5) The Flu Shot Provides Immunity Against Four Strains of Influenza.
There are more than 100 strains of the influenza virus, but only four strains can be included in the flu shot. So, each year, epidemiologists track influenza strains traveling around the world, predict which four strains are most likely to be hitting the U.S. during our flu season, and select those to be included in that year’s flu shot.
As mentioned, the flu shot only protects you for about 6 months, but this is another reason why you need to get new flu shot each year -- because every year, the strains of influenza are often different from the strains that affected us the year before.
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