Updated: Nov 25, 2019
According to CNBC, the influenza virus has already caused some fatalities this year. Because these deaths happened so early on, experts believe the 2019-20 flu season may be particularly severe. Despite warnings like this every year, there is always a debate about whether or not getting a flu shot is a true necessity. This is because they question the effectiveness of the vaccine, and some believe it can make them sick.
Below, we will go over how the flu shot works, common misconceptions, and why getting a flu vaccine every year is vital to your health and the health of those around you.
What is the flu shot, and how does it work?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot is a seasonal flu vaccine that “protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.” The CDC also adds that “most flu vaccines in the United States protect against four different flu viruses.”
The flu vaccine works by promoting the development of antibodies in your body that attack the virus. It can take up to two weeks for your body to develop enough antibodies to fight off the virus. These antibodies decrease over time, which is why you need to get a new vaccine each flu season.
Another way the vaccine works is by promoting something called herd immunity or community immunity. Herd immunity is built when enough people within a community are vaccinated, and very few become infected. Some viruses and diseases have been completely eradicated from certain populations thanks to herd immunity.
Each person who gets vaccinated for the flu exponentially decreases the number of people who can possibly get sick within a community. Additionally, if you get a flu shot, you are protecting others who can’t get the vaccine “because their immune system is weak, and vaccines might make them sick. This includes babies, people with vaccine allergies, and anyone with an immune-suppressing disease like HIV or cancer” (WebMD).
Who should get a flu shot?
For the 2019-2020 flu season, everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated. Vaccination is especially crucial for people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications. The CDC emphasizes that some people are more likely to “get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death.” People with asthma, chronic congestive heart failure, and other chronic conditions can suffer increased complications if they get sick with the flu.
When should I get a flu shot?
The flu season usually begins in October and peaks between December and February. You should try to get your flu shot in October or early November because it may take a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop.
Even if the flu season is in full swing, it is still recommended that you get vaccinated. According to the CDC, getting “vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.”
Can I get sick from the flu shot?
Many people believe that you can get sick from a flu shot. According to Dr. Ben-Aderet (associate director of Hospital Epidemiology at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai hospital) in an interview with CNBC, “There’s no risk of getting the flu from the flu shot,” because the vaccine does not contain active strains of the virus. Some people get sick shortly after being vaccinated because it takes a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop.
If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, you should consult your doctor. The Crimson Care team is here to answer those questions and to administer the flu shot so that you can protect yourself and others from the flu virus this year.
Learn about health services available at Crimson Care in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Dr. Ramesh Peramsetty -- along with his entire Crimson Care team -- is committed to making medical services convenient and accessible. The clinic offers three Tuscaloosa locations: Crimson Care Skyland, Veterans Memorial, and First Care on McFarland. All locations offer extended weekday hours and one-stop treatment services, including medical care, x-rays, lab work, and prescription dispensing. Crimson Care also provides digital access through its online patient portal. Request prescription refills, complete any necessary patient forms online, review your medical records at any time, and even pay your bill. Check us out today on our website, or give us a call today at Crimson Care Veterans: (205) 507-1100, Crimson Care Skyland: (205) 507-1119, or First Care: (205) 349-2323.