Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection that affects your respiratory system, and each year it causes countless sick days at work and school, and generally makes people feel miserable. It can also pose a serious health risk to young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. From 3000 to 49,000 people die of flu each year, with an average just under 24,000, according to the CDC.
The best defense against seasonal influenza is a vaccine, and flu vaccinations are best administered early in the season before the prevalent viruses have an opportunity to spread. To learn if a flu shot or nasal vaccine is best for you and your children, get in touch with your primary care doctor.
Do Flu Vaccines Really Work?
A flu vaccination is your best defense against seasonal influenza. While a flu shot does not guarantee you will not suffer from influenza, it does decrease your risk of contracting and spreading influenza. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines are most effective when administered in the fall, especially October and November. It generally takes about two weeks after the vaccination to generate the antibodies that protect you from the virus.
Why Do I Need a New Flu Vaccination Every Year?
Influenza viruses constantly mutate and adapt, and a virus that was effective last year may not work against the virus this year. Likewise, vaccinations are continuously adjusted to protect against the prevailing strains of influenza.
Who Should get a Flu Vaccine?
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Influenza vaccines are strongly advised for those at high risk of flu complications, including:
- Elderly adults
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- Asthma sufferers
Those with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or kidney or liver disease are also advised to receive a flu vaccination.
Are Shots the Only Option?
No. A nasal spray vaccine may also be available. It’s important to note that nasal sprays are generally only approved for healthy individuals between 2 and 49 years old and who are not pregnant; if the nasal spray is not available early in the season, it is best to undergo a flu shot.
If you live in the Littleton, Colorado, area and would like to schedule a seasonal flu vaccination for you or your child, please contact Dr. Andy Fine online or call our office at 303-703-8583 today.