The Flu Vaccination: How A Simple Injection Could Save Your Life


Katherine Lu, Journalist/Editor

Annually, millions of people become afflicted with a particular illness, hundreds of thousands of people become hospitalized because of this one disease, and tens of thousands of people die from one specific ailment. The sickness in question is influenza, also known as the flu. The flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and death. It can result in pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions. Every flu season is different and the flu can affect different people differently. In the US, the flu season lasts from late September to early May, with cases peaking in February. However, there is one effective way to drastically reduce the risk of getting the flu: getting a flu vaccination.

Flu vaccinations are the best way to protect you from the flu. They reduce the risk of flu, hospitalization, and flu-related death in children. Some vaccinated people may still get sick, but flu shots drastically reduce the risk of falling ill. You need to get a flu shot every year because your body’s immunity declines over time, and viruses are constantly changing. Anyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot unless recommended otherwise by a doctor. Since the flu season starts in late September, you should aim to get your vaccine by the end of October. Ideally, you should get vaccinated before the flu starts to spread in your community because it takes time for antibodies to develop. If you are unable to get vaccinated before the end of October, you should still get the flu vaccine anyway. After all, a late vaccination is better than no vaccination at all!

How does the flu vaccine work, you might wonder? Well, the vaccine introduces a small protein from the virus into your body. This protein causes your body to produce antibodies to fight the virus. It takes about 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine for your body to develop antibodies. Flu vaccines create some degree of immunity in case you come in contact with the real virus later. They are designed to protect from the influenza viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming flu season. All flu shots in the US are quadrivalent, meaning they protect from 4 different types of viruses: an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses.

The flu is an extremely unpleasant disease that can lead to serious and downright life-threatening complications. A good way to protect yourself and your community from becoming sick is by getting a flu vaccination. After all, none of us want to catch the flu!




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