The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot and influenza vaccine, is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. It should be taken by everyone and every year.

People who have chronic liver disease, heart disease, lung disease (like asthma and COPD), kidney disease or diabetes should definitely take the flu vaccine. 

It is given by injection and usually in the arm. The vaccine also comes in nasal spray form. If you are considering getting this vaccine, you should know these things.

Q. What is the benefit of the flu vaccine?

Study reveals that influenza vaccines lower the risk of hospital visit, (ICU) admission and death compared to unvaccinated patients. Some other studies show that flu vaccines benefit patients with chronic diseases. They also protect women during and after pregnancy and their infants as well for a few months. The flu vaccine also reduces children’s risk of life-threatening influenza. 

Q. Which type of flu vaccine is best?

Usually, a quadrivalent vaccine is administered that protects against four strains of influenza virus.

Q. How does the flu vaccine work?

These vaccines have a tiny amount of weekend or deactivated versions of the influenza virus. When it is administered, the body recognizes the protein on the virus's surface and in response makes antibodies to fight against it. Our immune system memorises it so that when the same virus attacks, our body will be ready to fight against it.

Q. How many flu vaccines do you need to take?

Experts recommend getting the flu vaccine every year. Children between 6 months and 8 years may need two doses during a single flu season.

Q. Why is the flu vaccine taken every year?

The flu virus strains continuously change, and so does the vaccine. Every year WHO (World Health Organization) and other associations identify the recent circulating flu virus strain and accordingly prepare a new vaccine formula.

Q. Does the flu vaccine also provide protection against swine flu?

Yes. Swine flu (H1N1 flu) is a type of influenza A virus, which can be tackled by seasonal flu vaccines.

Q. Are there any side effects of the flu vaccine?

Influenza vaccines are very safe and introduced in the market after a lot of research and testing under the supervision of scientists, doctors and experts. However, it may cause mild and short-lasting problems in some people:

Some minor side effects of the flu shot:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade headaches
  • Swelling, redness and soreness where the vaccine was given

Some minor side effects of the flu nasal spray:

  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever (low grade)
  • Vomiting

Q. At what age is the flu vaccine given?

Flu shots can be given to anyone above 6 months and older. However, the flu nasal spray vaccine is given to people between 2 and 49 years of age.

Q. In which month should you take the flu vaccine in India?

The best time to take the influenza vaccine in India is between September and November. Because this is the time when the flu gets worse.

Q. How long does it take for the flu vaccine to build sufficient immunity?

Influenza vaccine takes around two weeks post-vaccination to release antibodies, which stay for almost the next six months.

Also, Read: The Impact of Air Pollution on Asthma

with Dr. Akshay Budhraja


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