Why is the flu vaccination important?
Thursday, September 12, 2019
It is that time of year again: Flu season.
The “flu” is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The two basic types are influenza A and influenza B, with A usually being more severe.
It is transmitted through the air from the breath of an infected person or a cough or sneeze. Signs and symptoms of influenza are rapid onset of fever, sore throat, muscle aches and cough. Some people also have runny nose, headache, burning chest and light sensitivity.
Influenza can be very serious, even resulting in hospitalization and death. The risks are highest for people over the age of 65, young children, and those with compromised immune systems due to other medical conditions. Influenza can also lead to serious complications including pneumonia, heart inflammation and bronchitis.
The No. 1 way to prevent the flu is vaccination. Other important steps include: covering the nose and mouth when coughing/sneezing; washing hands often with soap and water; staying away from those who are ill; staying home if you are ill; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The most common vaccines are made from inactivated (killed) viruses. It is available in a quadrivalent form (containing four types of virus) that is available for ages 6 month and older and a high-dose trivalent form (containing three types of virus) that is available for anyone age 65 and older. The vaccine should be repeated yearly due to changes in the expected strains of influenza for that year.
The influenza vaccine is very safe. The most common side effects are soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Less than 1% of people develop fever, chills and muscle aches for one to two days following the vaccine, and these side effects do not mean you are getting the flu. Vaccination is important to protect yourself and those around you from the spread and the possible dangers of influenza.
For additional information or to get vaccinated, visit MediCenter Pharmacy or your health care provider.
Chistina Hart, Pharm.D, is a pharmacist at MediCenter Pharmacy in Jackson.