Get your Child flu shot today!
What is Flu?
Flu is a short word for Influenza, which is an illness caused by the influenza virus. This virus infects the nose, the upper airways, throat and lungs.
Flu spreads very easily from person to person. It mainly spreads when people who have flu, talk, cough or sneeze and these droplets land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or are inhaled. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Symptoms of Flu
The following can be experienced by a person suffering from flu:
- Fever/chills (not everyone may have fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting/diarrhoea (more in children than in adults)
What is Flu vaccine?
A flu vaccine is a preparation which once injected into the human gives them protection against the flu virus. The vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies once developed provide protection against the virus. Vaccination against flu has shown many benefits including, reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.
There are different types of flu vaccines available depending on what the vaccine contains. It can be inactivated influenza vaccine, recombinant influenza vaccine or live attenuated influenza vaccine. Depending on the protection they provide these vaccines can be, quadrivalent, which protect against four different flu viruses, or trivalent, which provide protection against three flu viruses.
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
Children 6 months through 8 years getting a flu vaccine for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of flu vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine. The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.
If your child previously got two doses of flu vaccine (at any time), he only needs one dose of flu vaccine this season.
Annual vaccination with single dosage is recommended.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Such seasonal vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be the most common during the upcoming season.
Benefits of Flu vaccine for children
- Reduces the risk of flu illness and hospitalization among children.
- Shown to be life-saving for children.
- Can make illness less severe among people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu.
- Reduces the risk of illness, which can keep your child from missing school or childcare and you from having to miss work.
- Reduces the high risk of developing serious flu complication especially if your child is younger than 5 years, or of any age with certain chronic conditions.
- Helps prevent spreading flu to family and friends, including babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine.
Why is flu vaccine needed every year?
There are two reasons why a flu vaccine is needed every year:
- A person’s immune protection declines over a period of time so an annual vaccination provides optimal protection.
Since flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from oneseason to the nest in order to protect against the virus strain which the research suggests would be common in that season.
What is the best time to get vaccinated?
One should get a flu vaccine before the virus starts spreading in the community, since it takes two weeks’ time to develop antibodies after the vaccine is injected.
In India, limited influenza activity is seen throughout the year with a clear peaking during the rainy season all over the country. The rainy season in India is between June to August in all regions except Tamil Nadu where it occurs from October to December. Thus, the optimum time to vaccinate is the pre-monsoon period, which is, May-June.
Can pregnant women be given flu vaccine?
Pregnant women should get a flu vaccine during each pregnancy. Flu vaccines given during pregnancy help protect both the mother and her baby from flu.
Changes in the immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy makes the expectant more likely to get seriously ill from flu. A Pregnant lady can be safely vaccinated during any trimester of her pregnancy. Getting vaccinated can also help protect the newborn baby after birth from flu. (Mom passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.)
Benefits of flu vaccine in pregnancy (Helps in giving protection during and after pregnancy)
- Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by about one half.
- A study in 2018 showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent.
- A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated.
What can be the side effects of flu vaccines?
Flu shots can cause the following side effects:
- Soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was given
- Muscle aches
Since flu vaccine is also available to be given as a nasal spray, such spray can cause:
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
The side effects of vaccine may be mistaken for flu, but its important to know that flu vaccines do not cause flu.
What protection does a flu vaccine provide if one gets sick with flu?
Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick. However, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity of illness in such people. A study in 2017 showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay and overall duration of hospitalization in adults affected with flu.
Benefit of Flu vaccine in 2021-2022
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccine in 2021-2022 is more important than ever. These vaccines will not prevent COVID-19 but will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalization, and deaths on the healthcare system and conserve the scare medical resources for COVID-19 care. (Source:CDC)
Flu vaccination and COVID, research articles
-A research study conducted in a pandemic centre of Istanbul has shown that even if low, the flu vaccination may have a protective effect on the susceptibility to COVID-19 infection. This means that people vaccinated with flu vaccine, have decreased susceptibility to COVID-19 infection. Such beneficial adjuvant effect of the vaccine, which is in addition to its main role of preventing flu, may help us in this unpredictable battle with COVID-19. (Published in Central European journal of public health 2021)
-As per a study conducted in an Italian population, COVID-19-positive patients older than 65 years reported a lower prevalence of flu vaccination when compared to the general population. After correction for gender, age, and comorbidities, a lower risk of death at 60 days in patients with flu vaccination was found than in not vaccinated patients.This study showed that flu vaccination could reduce the mortality of COVID-19. (Published in Internal and emergency medicine, 2021)
-Influenza and COVID-19 can present with similar symptoms, and co-infections with a more severe course, complications or a fatal outcome have been recorded. Beyond that, COVID-19 and seasonal influenza share the same high-risk groups and both can prove detrimental for older persons and persons with chronic co-morbidities, including obese persons and residents of long-term care facilities. Therefore, influenza immunization is of critical importance for high-risk groups to reduce the possibility of influenza infection and co-infection with SARS-CoV-2, diagnostic dilemmas, and inappropriate management in terms of antiviral therapy and infection control. Prioritizing influenza immunization of pregnant women, persons with co-morbidities, the elderly, and residents of long-term care facilities is absolutely justified. (Article, Influenza immunization in COVID-19, published in research journal, Vaccine, 2020)
Influenza vaccination is associated with decreased positive COVID-19 testing and improved clinical outcomes and should be promoted to reduce the burden of COVID-19. (As per a study published in, American journal of infection control, 2021)
Above all information is for awareness purpose. Please contact your doctor to know more.
- Centre for disease control and prevention website. cdc.gov
- Advisory committee on vaccines and immunization practices website. acvip.org
- Annual influenza vaccination effect on the susceptibility to covid-19 infection. Cent Eur J Public Health 2021;29 (1): 14-17.
- Effect of influenza vaccine on Covid-19 mortality: a retrospective study. Intern Emerg Med(2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11739-021-02702-2
- Influenza immunization and covid-19. Vaccine 2020;38 (39): 6078-79.
- Impact of the influenza vaccine on the covid-19 infection rates and severity. American journal of infection control 2021; 49 (6): 694-700.