Fall not only entails crisp air and scenic, environmental changes. Unfortunately, it is also the start of a widespread seasonal epidemic characterized by coughs, fever, and body aches--the flu.
Anybody can get the flu any time of the year. However, it becomes much more prevalent during the fall and peaks in the winter season, mainly due to the cold temperature.
Now that the freezing air starts to blow this way, many are pondering one question in their minds, “Should I get a flu shot?”.
With the COVID-19 still at large, protecting yourself and your family by flu vaccination may definitely be the smartest decision you will make.
But if you are still unsure about it, then here is everything you need to know about the seasonal flu and why it is vital to get a flu shot.
Understanding Seasonal Flu and Its Symptoms
Flu or seasonal flu refers to a respiratory disease caused by a group of viruses called influenza. They infect the nose, throat, and lungs, causing various symptoms like:
- High fever
- Body aches and joint pain
- Cough and sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Occasional runny nose and red eyes
The illness can be contagious, especially during the first four days of its onset. It can be spread through inhaling respiratory droplets in the air, which happens when infected people sneeze, cough, or talk.
You can also get it by touching surfaces with infected droplets then accidentally touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Getting the flu will make you feel miserable for a few days, but after a week or two, healthy people usually recover from it unscathed.
However, the same cannot be said for immunocompromised individuals who are at high risk of getting infected and developing complications. These people include:
- Individuals with chronic lung illnesses like asthma, COPD, bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis.
- Seniors 65 years and older
- Pregnant women and young children
- People with chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disorders, and kidney problems.
- Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
- HIV/AIDS patients undergoing treatment.
- People working in nursing homes and healthcare facilities.
These individuals may not recover as quickly as an average adult and can suffer from disease complications like pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and dehydration.
Doctors prescribe antiviral drugs for patients exhibiting mild symptoms. These drugs will help relieve the symptoms and prevent further disease complications.
However, immunocompromised individuals with mild to severe symptoms will be advised to be hospitalized for a few days to avoid complications.
Flu Vaccination: Should I Get a Flu Shot?
There are many ways to prevent flu infection, such as proper handwashing and avoiding contact with infected individuals. But these practices are not foolproof.
No matter how careful you are, you can still contract the disease if the people around you do not do their part to limit the spread of infection.
Fortunately, there is a way to ensure that you and your family won’t ever have to worry about getting the flu, and that is through flu vaccinations.
Experts and healthcare professionals highly recommend everyone, especially those at high risks, to get their flu shots as early as now.
Here are some guidelines to follow in getting your appropriate flu vaccine:
- All individuals six months and older should get a licensed and age-appropriate vaccine annually.
- Pregnant women should get vaccinated.
- People with chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary illness should be prioritized for vaccinations.
- People with certain conditions indicated below should consult first with a physician:
- Individuals with an egg allergy or other kinds of allergy.
- Individuals who have or ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome.
- Individuals with an ongoing medical condition.
Make sure to seek vaccinations from authorized health facilities with healthcare professionals. There are many variants of influenza vaccine (e.g., injectable, nasal spray), and most of them have different usage and are not applicable for all ages.
For instance, nasal spray flu vaccines should NOT be administered to children below two years old, and adults aged 50 and above.
What Are the Benefits of Flu Vaccine?
With the rampant spread of the coronavirus disease, suddenly developing high fever partnered with dry cough and body aches can be quite alarming these days. COVID-19 and flu infection have pretty much the same set of symptoms, especially at the disease’s onset.
Flu also shares similarities with other prevalent illnesses during the winter season, such as colds and seasonal allergies.
The flu vaccine may not bring immunity against COVID-19, but it will surely protect you and your family against different influenza virus strains. Here are just a few reasons why it is essential to get your flu shots now.
1. Reduced Risk of Getting Infected and Hospitalized
The main goal of getting vaccinated is to protect and make you immune to diseases caused by the influenza virus.
The flu might look like a harmless illness, but it can actually be life-threatening, especially for immunocompromised individuals.
Moreover, studies suggest that flu vaccination successfully decreased flu-related hospitalization this year by 41%.
2. A Cost-Efficient Preventive Tool
Getting a flu vaccination not only preserves your health, but it also helps protect your savings from hospitalization bills and medical procedures.
Additionally, contracting the influenza virus and exhibiting its symptoms would land you straight to the hospital and get tested for COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated would bring you peace of mind and help lighten the burden and save the resources of the healthcare system.
3. Helps Protect Your Loved Ones
Encouraging everyone in your family to get vaccinated, especially those vulnerable to the disease like babies and elderlies, helps them get one step closer to wellness.
Even if you are the only one vaccinated, you will still protect them and help stop the disease’s spread amongst your family members by already being immune to it.
Taking care of and protecting one’s health should take precedence over anything. Stop pondering whether you should get a flu shot or not and start actively seeking preventive measures to ensure safety against these dire times.