Flu (influenza) is also known as flu shot, is an annual vaccine to protect against the highly variable influenza virus. It spreads rapidly through small droplets coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. In the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, Physicians tried everything they knew, to developing new vaccines and sera (chiefly against what we now call Hemophilus influenzae—a name derived from the fact that it was originally considered the etiological agent (microscopic organisms such as bacteria or viruses, which can cause disease)—Only transfusing blood from recovered patients to new victims, showed any hint of success.
In 1931, viral growth in embryonated (said of an egg which contains an embryo) hens’ eggs was reported by Ernest William Good pasture and colleagues at Vanderbilt University. The work was extended to growth of influenza virus by several workers, including Thomas Frances, Wilson Smith and Macfarlane Burnet, leading to the first experimental influenza vaccines. In the 1940s, the US military developed the first approved inactivated vaccines for influenza, which were used in the Second World War. Greater advances were made in vaccinology and immunology, and vaccines became safer and mass-produced. So Studies have shown that flu vaccines provide effective protection against the flu. Protection from the vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains change over time. Therefore, new vaccines are made each year and people at risk of flu are encouraged to be vaccinated every year.
Today flu vaccination is offered to those people who are at greater risk of developing serious complications if they catch flu, such as pregnant women and elderly people.
For most people, flu is unpleasant but not serious. Infected will usually recover within a week. However, certain people are at greater risk of developing serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These conditions may require hospital treatment. The flu vaccine is offered free to people who are at risk, to protect them from catching flu and developing serious complications.
It is recommended that you have a flu jab if you:
- are 65 years old or over
- are pregnant:- vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re in. This is because there is good evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, particularly from the H1N1 strain. Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely given during any trimester of pregnancy without mother or baby.
- have a serious medical condition: – The flu vaccine is offered free to anyone who is over six months of age and has one of the following medical conditions:
- chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, COPD or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological disease, such as a stroke, TIA or post-polio syndrome
- a weakened immune system due to conditions such as HIV, or treatments that suppress the immune system such as chemotherapy
- are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- are a frontline health or social care worker
This winter’s flu jab protects against the H1N1 strain of the flu virus. H1N1 is included because it is likely to be one of the major flu strains circulating in Britain this winter. H1N1 is the same strain of flu that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Side effects of the inactivated/dead flu vaccine injection include:
- mild soreness, redness, and swelling where the shot was given
These problems usually begin soon after the injection, and last 1–2 days.
Side effects of the activated/live flu nasal spray vaccine:
Some children and adolescents 2–17 years of age have reported:
- runny nose, nasal congestion or cough
- headache and muscle aches
- abdominal pain or occasional vomiting or diarrhea
Some adults 18–49 years of age have reported:
- runny nose or nasal congestion
- sore throat
- cough, chills, tiredness/weakness
More severe, but very rare side effects include:
- life-threatening allergic reaction
While winters are approaching, there is rising concern of growing level of flu protection so that such cases can be avoided in the best possible manner. As it’s known that those having weak resistance are more likely to suffer from flu, health experts have long been chanting about flu jabs.