What are flu vaccinations and how do they work?
Flu shots, also known as influenza vaccine, is an immunisation technique that protects a human body from the influenza virus. These shots teach the body how to fight the influenza virus. If the patient does get infected the protein made antibodies react against the virus faster as a result of the flu shot. Flu shots or vaccines often protect against three types of flu viruses in Melbourne i.e. influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B virus. Flu vaccines can be given yearly as well as seasonally. It takes about two weeks to stimulate the antibodies, after stimulation, the antibodies are ready to fight the flu virus.
Types of flu shots:
There are two types of flu shots offered in Melbourne, Trivalent and Quadrivalent.
Trivalent flu shots are vaccines that can fight three different types of influenza viruses. It can be either a high dose vaccine or adjuvant. These vaccines protect a human body against influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B virus.
Quadrivalent flu shots are the vaccines that can fight four different types of influenza viruses. Quadrivalent flu shots can be a standard-dose vaccine, Flucelvax or Flublok.
The type of vaccines and number of doses vary based on the type of flu shot as well as the age of the patient.
Ways to provide flu shots:
There are various ways to provide flu shots:
- injecting into the muscle
- injecting into the intradermal or middle layer of skin
- inserted through the nose by inhaling it
There are several important points to note before taking flu shots. Based on reactions some people should avoid getting flu shots.
Some reactions can be experienced by patients after getting flu shots. These reactions may include fever (low grade) which might last for one to two days. Muscle ache and headache are also a common reaction to flu shots, but all these reactions are considered normal. Only five to ten percent of people given vaccines experience reactions.
Harmful reactions caused by flu shots:
Apart from experiencing normal reactions, it is important to note that a very small percentage of people experience severe reactions.
Flu shots may cause serious allergies which are very rare. These allergies include Anaphylaxis and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening.
Another severe reaction known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a very rare reaction to flu shots.
People Who Should Avoid Getting Flu Shots:
Flu shots have many benefits, but for a few patients, these benefits are out-weighted be potential harmful reactions. Vaccines for flu are usually not advised for the following patients:
- Patients who have experienced allergies when they had their previous vaccines
- Patients who have a weaker immune system, cannot handle the stimuli of antibodies
- Children below two years or infants
- Pregnant women
It is important to consult a medical doctor before having a flu shot.
Flu shots in their initial phase of implementation faced many criticisms. Some researchers doubted the efficacy and benefits of flu shots. Although the vaccines do protect people from flu and reduce its viral spread, a few researchers such as Tom Jefferson and Michael Osterholm criticised its promotion.
Measuring efficacy and efficiency:
To measure the benefits of flu shots, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) apply certain methods to check how much of influenza has been successfully reduced among the population. After each year they release data. Current flu data from the CDC suggests that flu vaccination reduces the overall risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population.
Flu Shots Melbourne