COVID-19 may have upended the world and hogged headlines in 2020, but there’s another virus we shouldn’t forget. The influenza virus, which is responsible for causing the flu, has also been making the news for the wrong reasons. A highly contagious virus, influenza spreads easily throughout the population. Naturally, the topic of flu vaccinations to protect oneself against influenza has also been widely discussed in response to this phenomenon.
Like the common cold, the flu is a respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and lungs. It may trigger other ailments such as ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and heart inflammation. There are three kinds of flu (Influenza A, B and C), and the severity of infection varies accordingly. But the symptoms are similar: Chills, fever, cough and sore throat. Also, body aches and fatigue are common.
Why flu vaccinations are important
If fighting viruses is like going into battle, then your body needs all the firepower it can get to win the war. In the fight against the flu, getting vaccinated is perhaps the most effective way to protect your body.
That’s because flu vaccinations introduce an inactivated form of the circulating influenza virus into your immune system. So, rather than causing the flu infection, the vaccination prepares your body to develop the necessary antibodies that protect you from subsequent infections. Even if you do get infected, the flu symptoms are likely to be milder, and will carry much lower risks of further complications.
There are other benefits, too. Getting a flu shot isn’t all about shielding yourself from the virus. You’re also creating a line of defense against community spread. You might have a healthy immune system to mitigate flu symptoms, but being asymptomatic will not stop you from being a potential virus-carrier. Someone with a weaker immune response who has been in close contact with you might easily contract your virus.
Time to get a flu vaccination
Viruses are tough enemies indeed. They are capable of mutating and evolving into an entirely different strain altogether, which means a new form of antibody will be required. To prepare for the next flu season, it is best to get a yearly vaccination. This is also beneficial as the initial antibodies developed from your last flu shot might weaken over time.
While flu vaccinations are generally safe (you can always speak to a WhiteCoat doctor to find out if you’re suitable to get a flu shot), there are certain side effects. For example, you may find yourself experiencing a bout of mild fever or certain body aches. This is normal as it is the body’s initial response to the vaccination. It’s a small discomfort to deal with, especially when you can have a greater peace of mind.
Achieving a healthy lifestyle encompasses more than just protecting yourself against the flu. Click here to read more health tips on the WhiteCoat blog.