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Flu Shot

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In the United States, the flu season can start in October and last until May. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to get vaccinated each year to protect yourself from the flu.

A flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent becoming ill with the influenza virus. Every year, anywhere from five to twenty percent of persons in the United States come down with a case of the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately two hundred thousand of these patients are hospitalized due to complications of influenza.

Older persons, young children, and individuals with comprised immunity are considered at risk for the development of these health complications, including death in the most severe incidences. This is one of the best reasons to make a simple flu vaccine shot or vaccination against influenza part of the patient’s annual health regimen. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine makes flu vaccine available for patients each year.

What is the Flu Vaccine?

The CDC evaluates various flu virus strains and determined the three largest threats to the nation each year. These three virus strains are combined in the annual flu vaccine. In order to determine the three most likely flu virus threats, the CDC analyzes the most common strains in Australia and China over the previous year. That’s because flu viruses actually migrate from one place to another.

How is Flu Vaccine Made?

Pharmaceutical firms take the identified viruses and then inactive them (“kill” them). The viruses are grown inside chicken eggs. Both antibiotics and additives, including polysorbate-80, thimerosal, formaldehyde and Triton X-100 may be included to preserve the inactive virus to ensure its effectiveness. When the vaccine is prepared, the nurse or physician injects it into the patient’s body. Although a nasal spray delivery of flu vaccine may be available, this form isn’t considered as effective as the flu vaccine shot.

How Does Flu Vaccine Work in the Body?

Once inoculated with the flu vaccine, the body’s immune system believes it has been recently infected with influenza. The immune system them generates antibodies against the virus or viruses in the flu vaccine. The antibodies target the viruses by binding to them. If the individual later comes into contact with a live form of one of the flu strains in the flu shot, the body defends itself and the virus doesn’t develop into a case of influenza.

Unfortunately, if the individual comes into contact with a strain of flu virus that isn’t part of this year’s flu vaccine, he or she is likely to develop symptoms and illness. For that reason, CDC says the flu vaccine isn’t one hundred percent effective but it remains one of the best defensive strategies against influenza available.

Does the Flu Vaccine Give Patients the Flu?

Absolutely not! Some patients have heard stories about people getting a case of influenza from a dose of flu vaccine but these rumors aren’t true. Only inactive (“killed”) virus strains are used. Although live virus was used in some flu vaccines years ago, this isn’t the case today. Dead virus strains are much safer. When individuals get a case of flu after a flu shot, they have been infected with a strain of influenza virus that wasn’t part of this year’s vaccine.

And, rest assured, patients who have received flu vaccine cannot give others a case of the flu. They do not become carriers of the disease.

What is a Flu Epidemic?

Scientists can’t fully explain the phenomena associated with a flu epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that such an epidemic occurs when more cases of flu happen then normal. A flu epidemic is more likely to occur in the winter in either hemisphere. Sometimes, epidemics become flu pandemics. This frightening event happens when a type of flu strain evolves and people aren’t protected against it.

Why Do I Need to Get the Flu Vaccine Every Year?

Scientists know there are many strains of the influenza virus. These strains change and mutate constantly. As these different types and mutations move throughout the world, a simple annual vaccine shot is unlikely to defeat all versions of influenza virus. To help improve the vaccine’s effectiveness, public health officials include several (dead and inactive) strains of influenza in a single shot. Data about flu outbreaks in major population centers around the world help determine which influenza strains are included each year.

Should I Receive the Flu Vaccine This Year?

CDC recommends that individuals wishing to avoid influenza should receive the flu vaccine each year. Children of school age, adults of fifty years and older, and caregivers of young children (especially those who care for babies less than six months old), and immune system-compromised persons should receive an annual flu vaccine.

Although some people avoid getting the flu vaccine for a variety of reasons, the risks versus rewards of the flu vaccine shot are still strongly in favor of receiving the annual dose.

Patients who are allergic to eggs or other ingredients of the annual flu vaccine should notify Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine.

Conclusion

Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine recommends the annual flu vaccine to patients, especially those in high-risk categories outlined above. Dr. Charkawi welcomes new patients. The office is easily accessible to individuals and families living in North Atlanta, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Dawsonville, and South Forsyth, Gwinnett and North Fulton counties. Contact him at 770-771-6591 to arrange an appointment today.