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Flu Vaccine: Anything and Everything You Might Want to Know. By Our October Student Pharmacist, Nadia Szymanski.

What is the flu?

The seasonal flu is caused by a virus called influenza and may result in symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches.

Generally, the flu virus is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing.

The flu season in Ohio begins in October and continues through late March. Most people who get the flu recover in two weeks. However, of the estimated 200,000 people who will get the flu in the U.S., more than 20,000 flu-related deaths occur annually. Many of these deaths could be prevented by the flu vaccine.


Who should get a flu shot?
The flu vaccine is designed each year to protect people from the three or four strains of the influenza virus that are predicted to be the most common that season.

The flu vaccine is recommended annually in everyone over 6 months of age. Children under 6 months old are at the highest risk of getting the flu because they are too young to be vaccinated.

Receiving the flu vaccine is particularly important for those who are:

  • Pregnant
  • Under 5 years of age (particularly under 2 years old)
  • Over 65 years of age
  • Have certain chronic medical conditions
  • Live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • Live with or care for those who are high risk

How does the vaccine work?
The vaccine is made from an in-activated influenza virus that is no longer able to cause the flu. When you are given the vaccine, your body sees what the virus looks like and remembers it. If you come into contact with the virus again, your immune system can rapidly and effectively mount a response to the virus and you will not experience symptoms or the symptoms will not be as severe and may go away more quickly.

The flu vaccine is an injection into your muscle. Side effects after the shot are rare, but you may experience some soreness in the muscle, redness or swelling where the shot was given, low grade fever, or body aches. These symptoms are generally minor and will go away in a day or two.

Flu-shotI got the flu shot and still got sick?
Some people receive the flu vaccine and then get sick with flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can occur for a few reasons:

  • The flu vaccine does not work immediately. It takes about two weeks for your body to build protection against the influenza virus and it is possible for you to get the flu during this time period.
  • You may become ill during flu season due to a different virus, such as the rhinovirus, that can produce symptoms similar to those caused by influenza.
  • You may come in contact with a strain of the influenza virus that is not covered by the vaccine.
  • Unfortunately, some may still get the flu despite getting the vaccine. The protection that the vaccine provides varies widely and depends on your age, health status, and other factors at the time of vaccination. The vaccine works the best in younger, healthy adults and older children. Some older adults and those with a compromised immune system may not be able to develop as much immunity after the vaccination. The flu vaccine is still recommended in those who may develop less immunity because it can still help prevent the flu.

What types of flu vaccine are available?
Plain City Druggist offers three types of flu vaccines: trivalent, quadrivalent, and high dose.

  • Trivalent vaccine – offers protection against the three most anticipated strains of the influenza virus for the season and is recommended in anyone 6 months and older.
  • Quadrivalent vaccine – offers protection against the top four strains of the virus. Some forms of the quadrivalent vaccine are recommended for all those 6 months and older and some are recommended in those 3 years and older. While the quadrivalent vaccine covers an additional strain of the flu and, therefore, may offer more protection against the flu, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other.
  • High dose – is recommended in those 65 years and older. It is intended for older adults because, as we age, our immune system gets weaker. The high dose form of the vaccine is designed to help 
older adults’ bodies produce a stronger immune response and, therefore, better protection against the flu.

Please see the pharmacy for additional information on which forms of the flu vaccine your insurance covers.
For more information, please also visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm or the Ohio Department of Health at http://www.odh.ohio.gov/features/odhfeatures/seasflu/seasonalinfluenza.aspx.

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