Influenza, commonly called the flu, is much more serious than a common cold or case of the sniffles. Each year, viral influenza puts more than 200,000 Americans in hospital and kills nearly 40,000. While there isn’t a cure for the influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and most doctors recommend getting a yearly flu vaccine inoculation to help prevent infection.
What is flu?
Influenza is an extremely contagious viral respiratory infection. There are many different viruses that can cause the flu and these are continually mutating into different strains. That is why doctors recommend you get a yearly flu shot to increase your immunity to different forms of the influenza virus. Influenza viruses infect the nose, throat and lungs causing congestion, fever, body aches and fatigue.
New strains of influenza can be deadly because infected individuals have little or no resistance to the virus. People traveling around the globe carry the virus and can pass it to populations that have no immunity. Just after World War I, transmission of the flu resulted in a global tragedy. In 1918, the H1N1 influenza virus infected hundreds of millions worldwide. Nearly a hundred million people died. Vaccines are a major element in preventing the recurrence of such a global epidemic.
Top reasons people avoid flu shots:
- They don’t think it works
- Fear it contains mercury
- Fear it contains antibiotics
- Fear of needles
- It could contain toxins
- Flu shots cause the flu
- I never get flu and don’t need the shot
Flu shots explained
A flu vaccination works because it introduces a greatly weakened strain of the virus into your body. Your immune system battles the infection by creating antibodies that kill the virus. These antibodies remain after the virus is eliminated leaving your system with an increased immunity to future infection.
Children, the elderly and anyone with respiratory conditions are most at risk from influenza. The CDC recommends flu shots for these people because their immune systems are weaker and their risk of infection is greater.
Flu shot fears
Many people avoid getting a flu shot because they fear it will give them the flu or that it simply does not work. Others fear getting shots and needles. Vaccines against the flu and antiviral drugs now are available via several different delivery methods. One of the most popular methods is delivering the vaccine using a no needle nasal spray.
Some groups are very concerned with the possible risks of vaccinating very young children against the flu. They fear that the resulting suppression of a child’s immune system puts them at higher risk of other serious infections including meningitis and chicken pox. Some activist groups contend that all vaccinations are harmful and that the flu shot contains ingredients that are toxic. There is a growing concern that flu shots and other immunizations may contain mercury and toxic Polysorbate 80. This emulsifier is thought to depress the body’s immune reaction and increase risk of infectious disease.
The CDC reports that the latest flu vaccine protects against influenza A H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B virus. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received the flu shot over the past years and this year’s vaccine compares favorably to that used in previous years. Most commonly reported side effects of vaccination are soreness and slight swelling at the injection site and minor nasal congestion after receiving the nasal spray vaccine.
The Mayo Clinic reports that getting a flu shot in the fall is your best protection against seasonal flu. It takes up to two weeks for your body to build up immunity after getting the vaccine. Getting the shot early, before the flu season begins will give your body time to get the full benefit of the vaccine.
Flu is very contagious, even people who aren’t feeling ill can carry the virus and infect others. Those with a masters in public health recommend that you get a flu shot, practice good hand washing habits and keep a healthy life style including exercise and a sensible diet to keep your immune system strong and avoid getting ill this winter.
Trisha Vivona is a freelance writer and social media talent valuing innovation, hard work, and a relentless approach to creating value for clients and stakeholders. She can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
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