Influenza is a condition that is prevalent throughout the year. Whenever there is a sudden change in climate, a flu outbreak usually follows. However, flu season usually occurs during the winter, from December to February, and lasts until May. Getting a flu shot is the only way to prevent infection.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system. It is highly contagious, and spreads from one person to another through coughing or sneezing.
Common symptoms of the flu are high fever, muscle pain, runny nose, and fatigue. Though the virus will subside on its own through proper rest, it can pose a serious threat to high-risk groups like small children, older adults, and pregnant women.
When is the Flu Season?
Flu season usually begins in October, peaks in December and January, and can last until mid-May. The flu virus transmits more easily during cold weather, when humidity levels are low. On average, the season lasts 13 weeks.
When Should I Get My Flu Shot?
You should get your flu shot as soon as possible to ward off infection. It’s always advisable to get a flu shot before the onset of the flu season. But even if it is late into the season, the flu shot will still provide you some protection against the virus.
Once vaccinated, it will take up to 2 weeks for your body to develop antibodies against influenza. Because of this, you should take the vaccine as soon as it is made available at your local medical clinic in Kentucky.
For children, two doses of vaccine are often required to ensure complete protection from the flu. Your child’s doctor may advise four weeks between the two vaccinations; be sure to have your child get their first dose with plenty of time to spare before flu season.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
Every person above the age of 6 months should get their annual flu vaccine. This is particularly important for young children, older people, and pregnant women, as they fall under the high-risk category.
People who have other health conditions like Asthma, HIV, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease should also take the vaccine to prevent further complications.
But, if you are allergic to eggs, or had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine, then it is advisable not to take the vaccine.
Why Should I Get a Flu Shot Every Year?
The flu virus evolves very quickly. Because of this, previous vaccinations may not be effective during subsequent flu seasons. Moreover, the effect of the vaccine diminishes over time. Thus, the need to get re-vaccinated every year.
What Are the Different Types of Flu Shots?
There are two main types of flu shots—Trivalent flu vaccine and Quadrivalent flu vaccine.
1. Trivalent Flu Vaccine
Trivalent flu shots protect against three strains of flu-causing viruses—2 types of influenza A virus, and one type of influenza B virus.
The standard Trivalent flu shot is given to people between 18 and 65 years of age. This is the egg-grown flu vaccine that is taken via injection into the arm muscle.
The high-dose Trivalent flu shot is given to people over 65. This vaccine contains four times the amount of vaccine as a standard dose. This is because people in higher age ranges require a higher dose, due to their weaker immune systems.
2. Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine
The Quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against four strains of flu-causing viruses—2 types of influenza A, and two types of influenza B viruses.
The regular dose of the quadrivalent flu shot is administered to children older than six months, and the intradermal flu shot is given to people between 18 and 64 years of age. The intradermal shot is administered through the skin, rather than through the muscles.
For people who are allergic to eggs, the recombinant quadrivalent shot is the safer option. This is usually given to people above the age of 18.
Flu shots are not the only options available for immunization. There is a nasal spray for people who are not comfortable with shots.
The effectiveness of the flu shot varies from person to person depending on their general health. It is usually more effective in people under 65.
You can get a flu vaccine in any health care center, pharmacy, or doctor’s office. Some school and college health centers also provide flu shots to students. You can consult a family clinic near you in Kentucky to take the vaccine.
At KentuckyCare, we offer a wide range of healthcare services, including family medicine, pediatric care and women’s health services. We provide lifelong medical care and access to our extensive network of specialists. For more information about immunizations for adults or children, contact us at (866) 810-7602 or schedule an appointment at a KentuckyCare location near you.