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The Importance of the Flu Vaccine

By October 2, 2018 October 26th, 2018 Health & Wellness

By, Dr. Anita Mannancheril
Nannease welcomes Dr. Anita Mannancheril as the guest writer of this important piece. Read more about Dr. Mannancheril at the end of this article.

As a family doctor and now a mother, I can understand the many questions and concerns regarding your child’s health and all that it entails.

Influenza season is approaching and it can be daunting especially when the 2017-2018 seasons was one of the most severe seasons, excluding pandemics, according to CDC.

Flu symptoms include but are not inclusive: sudden onset fever (fever defined as 100.4F or higher), body aches, sore throat, fatigue, dry cough, vomiting or diarrhea

AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) as well as AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend that all peoples ages 6 months and older receive a flu shot for protection.

The flu vaccine works by causing antibodies to develop within 2 weeks after the vaccination. The seasonal vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that are indicated through research to be the most common in the upcoming season.

The flu vaccine is one vaccine that is updated yearly for 2 reasons: a body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time so yearly vaccines are needed for optimal protection. Also the flu viruses constantly change due to antigenic drifts and at times due to antigenic shifts. The formulation is reviewed each year and updated to keep up with changing flu viruses.

Yes, it is possible to still get the flu even If you have had the vaccine. This is because you might have been exposed before antibodies have had a chance to fully develop after the vaccine. Also, you might have been exposed to a strain that was not included in the vaccine. As stated, many different viruses circulate and the vaccine each year is comprised of what research suggests will be the most common. Some people might also get infected with a strain the vaccine was meant to cover. As with anything in life, the flu vaccination is not perfect but it helps protect and most of the times prevent catching the flu.

Research has shown, those who do get infected with the flu virus but have been vaccinated, tend to be less symptomatic or with less severity of symptoms and generally with a better outcome.

A common phrase I hear often is “one year I got the flu vaccine and it gave me the flu”. This cannot be true as the vaccines are made with killed/inactivated viruses or with proteins from a flu vaccine virus (recombinant). These are weakened or attenuated and cannot cause the flu.

Some common side effects to be expected of the flu are local and limited, meaning to the site of injection. This can include soreness, redness, or mild swelling at the site. This should all resolve fairly quickly and you can use pain reliever and/or heat to the area to help alleviate symptoms. Some people can also get a low grade fever or cold symptoms, which again should resolve easily.

                     

I hope this addresses some questions or concerns regarding the flu vaccine and influenza season. Please see the links for more patient centered information, updated by AAP and AAFP.

Stay healthy this winter!

Dr. Anita Mannancheril is a board certified Family Physician and an active member of AAFP. She sees patients of all ages, newborn to geriatrics and women’s care. She currently practices at Hunterdon Family Medicine of Bridgewater. Dr.Mannancheril is happy to contribute this important information to the Nannease blog, as she is a member of the Secured Sitter program herself.

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