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Is the Flu Vaccine a Good Idea for Your Family?

Is the Flu Vaccine a Good Idea for Your Family?

Answers by Susan Prater, MD

           

Influenza or “the flu” is an upper respiratory illness caused by a virus. It is contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing, and person to person contact. Flu season occurs yearly around October through May, but it is possible to become infected at other times of the year. The symptoms commonly experienced include fevers, sore throat, muscle aching, cough, headache, and nasal congestion.

The flu virus is capable of changing or mutating to find ways around our body’s immune system. Each year there may be a different strain of the virus causing us to get sick. This is why it is so important to get a flu vaccine every year.

There are two main types of flu vaccines, and you should talk to your medical provider about which one is right for you. The first type is given as a spray into the nose and contains a live, but weakened form of the flu virus.  This type is generally given to healthy individuals between ages 2 and 49. The second type of vaccine is the inactivated version which does not contain any live virus. This form is given by injection and can be given to young children and older adults. Both types trigger your immune system to start making antibodies to fight off the flu.

It takes about 2 weeks for your body to develop the protection it needs to fight off the flu after receiving the vaccine. The flu vaccine cannot protect against all types of influenza virus, but each year the vaccines can protect us from 3 to 4 the strains of the virus that we anticipate will cause the most illness that year.

Individuals at greatest risk for complications from influenza include young children, people with chronic medical conditions, and older individuals. Most individuals aged 6 month or older should receive an annual flu vaccine. We are currently at the beginning of flu season this year, so now is a great time to make sure you and your family are vaccinated.

For more information visit your Primary Care Physician or cdc.gov/flu:

Symptoms, How Flu Spreads, Higher Risk Groups, Past and Current Flu Season…
Stay Home When Sick,
Caring for Someone Sick With Flu…

Dr. Susan Prater is Board Certified in Family Medicine and in private practice at Granger Medical Clinic in Draper, Utah.

She can be reached at 801-576-2065.