It's that time of year again, the fall and winter months in which the flu makes its annual reappearance. No one really likes getting the shot, of course, but it does help protect against a virus that is nasty even in mild form. A lot of misinformation surrounds the shot each year, some anti-shot, but some pro-shot as well. Here's a rundown of the basic information you need to know.
It's Not 100% Protection, but it Offers a Substantial Reduction of Risk
One of the talking points of the medical profession is that you have to get your flu shot to avoid the flu. That's oversimplifying it. The "flu" each year is actually a collection of viruses. The shots available each year contain multiple vaccines that protect against the strains that researchers think will be the most widespread.
This means that even if you get the flu shot, you're still at risk. You are at reduced risk for sure, though, which is why you want the shot. If you reduce your risk even a bit, you stand a better chance of not spreading the viruses around to other people. That reduces the exposure of the population over all.
Sometimes the researchers can be wildly off, such as in the winter of 2014–2015, when the flu shot was effective only 23 percent of the time for most people, and 14 percent effective for people over 50. Those don't sound like good odds. But even those odds are better than getting no shot at all.
But again, a shot that's 100 percent effective against the predicted trouble strains might not protect you against other strains, which leads to the next point.
It's One of a Series of Tactics for Avoiding the Flu
The flu shot offers help. It's like a background security team, protecting you from threats overall. But even with a good security team, you still need to lock your doors, right? With the flu shot, you still need to wash your hands with soap and water frequently, avoid touching your face, avoid sneezing and coughing on people and into open air (because those sneeze and cough droplets create a cloud that others have to walk through), and eat, sleep, and drink water in a healthy manner. If you get the shot but then never take other precautions, you're really defeating the purpose of the shot.
Even the Egg-Allergic Can Get Vaccinated
If you have an egg allergy, especially a severe one, yes, getting the flu shot is trickier than it is for those who aren't allergic. But it's not impossible for most people with egg allergies (and that's important -- most does not mean all), and new information in 2016 revealed that it may be easier than ever. You no longer have to be monitored for a half hour after the shot, though you do still need to receive the shot in the presence of a doctor who is trained to handle allergic reactions. So go see your allergist, if you have one, and if not, start looking for one.
The only egg-allergic people who should never receive the flu shot are those who have previously reacted badly to the shot. So if you already have a history of an allergic reaction to the shot, talk to your allergist about alternative flu protection.
There Are Two Different Shots Now
The flu shot comes in two different strengths—normal and stronger. The stronger version is for people over the age of 50. Note that this distinction is different from the three-strain/four-strain distinction; in that case, you're looking at shots that protect against three virus strains versus four virus strains (known as the quadrivalent shot). Quadrivalent shot availability varies by region.
To learn more, contact services like Woolbright Corp Of Boynton Beach. One shot and you're done for another year. Just remember to wash your hands.