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A: Influenza, commonly called the “flu”, is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by Influenza A or Influenza B viruses. While the common cold is often casually called “the flu”, the two may seem similar but the flu’s impact is far greater. There are actually four types of Influenza viruses; Influenza A, B, C & D of which Influenza A & B are the two types which cause the yearly epidemic.
In the past, it was thought that infection with influenza A was more severe than infection with influenza B. However, a 2015 study in adults with influenza A & influenza B found they both resulted in similar rates of illness & death. The flu can affect healthy adults although those at greater risk are children, pregnant women, people with weak or compromised immune systems, & the elderly.
A: The flu is often compared to the common cold, although it can feel much worse. Common symptoms of the flu are:
These symptoms can present themselves differently in different people. Children & adults may experience varying symptoms of the same condition. Additional symptoms to be aware of during flu season are:
A: The flu can be extremely distressing, & even fatal at times. The flu vaccine is highly recommended to protect you from this severe illness & hospitalization. People who have chronic medical conditions may find that they worsen if they catch the flu.
A flu vaccination safeguards people from cardiac events & respiratory conditions. It also protects the health of expectant mothers during & after their pregnancy. With children, a flu shot will protect their developing immune system from fatalities.
A: A flu vaccine acts as a training program for your immune system. It helps your immune system generate defensive antibodies. These antibodies, now having experienced a mild version of the flu, are ready & trained in combating it if you do catch the flu from an external source.
It can take two weeks to develop immunity against the flu. An annual flu shot is recommended as your immune system’s antibody count fades over time. The flu virus changes & adapts every year, which is why it’s so widespread & difficult to avoid. New vaccines are created & released every year to keep up with these rapid changes. Getting the shot just before flu season will equip your body to fight it.
A: Flu season falls in autumn & winter. It’s recommended to get your flu vaccine in late August or September.
A: The flu virus can rapidly evolve & your body’s immune system needs to stay updated in order to fight a potentially mutated strain of the flu viruses. Flu vaccines are updated every year to protect you from newer versions of the flu.
A: It takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective. Avoid interacting with people showing symptoms similar to the common cold for 10 days to two weeks after your flu shot. You’re prone to catching it during this time.
A: The flu shot protects you for at least six months. Although, getting vaccinated for influenza any more than once a year is not recommended.
A: The flu shot equips your immune system with vital antibodies that your body needs to fight the flu. The chances of getting the flu after the flu shot are slim. Even if you do get it, your body has what it needs to overcome it.
A: Recent studies show flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% & 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine viruses. There are additional ways of reducing your risk of getting the flu after you have had the shot.
Standard hygiene practices like washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds, avoiding contact with people showing signs of illness, & refraining from touching heavily-used surfaces are highly recommended. Following a diet rich in vegetables will also ensure your immune system is at its peak at all times of the year.
A: While health authorities highly recommend the flu booster shot, it is not mandatory. Similar to covid-19, influenza was once the cause of a pandemic that severely affected the lives & families of people that had it. The discovery of the vaccine was a scientific triumph & medical milestone. Modern-day resources & research allow medical professionals to prevent influenza by updating the formula every year, as the virus mutates. Safeguard your & your family’s health by making the responsible decision for your personal & public good by getting the flu vaccine.