Influenza, most commonly known as the flu, is an upper respiratory infection that causes illness and in many cases complications. Nobody even scientists know exactly how the influenza virus was originated. However scientists have concluded that by some means, it began in travelling waterfowl like wild geese and ducks. The flu virus is categorized into three groups: A, B and C. A is the most serious and common, and can cause large epidemics. B is less critical and will usually not cause large epidemics. C on the other hand is the mildest. It doesn’t cause an epidemic, though it is similar to the common cold. The flu infects the throat, nose, lungs and bronchial tubes, and can result in pneumonia. If you feel tired and sluggish, your muscles ache, you have a headache and feel nauseous and feverish; you may have contracted the flu.
Most often, the flu virus attacks children and seniors. However, the best thing to do to prevent contracting the flu is to have a yearly flu shot. The reason for this is because the virus mutates at a very fast rate, and by the end of a given season its effect diminishes. It should be known that there are some controversies about the safety of flu shots. Most of the controversy is about Thimerosal, an ingredient which is commonly used by flu shot manufacturers as a additive. Being a mercury-based preservative, Thimerosal has been removed from majority medical products to guard public health.
Effectiveness of the flu shot
The flu shots have been verified to be 70% – 90% effective in individuals below 65 years old. This percentage varies due to matching a vaccine to the various flu viruses in any given year. The flu shot reduces the number of flu cases and controls the spread and development of more serious life-threatening respiratory illnesses like pneumonia.
Side effects of flu shots
Side effects of flu shots include aches, fever, redness, soreness or swelling at the injection site, which is seen in about 20% of the people receiving the flu shot. About one percent of the people will develop fever, chills and muscle aches. However, all these side effects are less severe compared to the flu itself.
Who should not take flu shot?
The vaccine must not be administered to children below 6 months old, pregnant women and to people with a family history of Guillain-Barré syndrome. If also you are sensitive to eggs, had a reaction in the past to a flu shot, or you presently have a fever or other illness, you should consult your physician before taking a flu shot.
In order to protect yourself from the influenza virus, you may be considering getting a flu shot this year. However, make sure you first contact your physician.