Influenza Vaccine: What, Why and When


Winter season is knocking on the door and with it, it brings cold, cough and allergies. With the pollution so high in most big cities, there are rising incidents of allergies in children and even adults. 


I am currently at my brother’s place and my nephew has suffered from respiratory allergies since he was very young. He has gone through the usual routes treatment from medicines to nebulisation, but there has been no long-term relief.







 Last year, his doctor suggested influenza vaccine or flu shot for him and he had unbelievable relief from his usual symptoms. This year too he has been vaccinated just before the winter started and there is visible improvement in his health.


My 4 years old too suffered from intermittent cold and cough, though she is definitely way more resilient now, ever since I started using these natural home remedies to boost her immunity. Her doctor had recommended getting the flu vaccine and I was not sure about it, so I skipped it. This year too he has recommended the same, so I spoke to him in detail about it and also researched regarding flu shot or influenza vaccine. So, though of sharing it with you all.



What is Influenza?


Influenza or flu is a viral respiratory infection that spreads very fast. It is a systemic virus which means that it affects multiple body organs. It enters through respiratory system, enters bloodstream and affects the whole body thus causing body ache, cold, fever, shivering, cough and congestion.




How serious is Influenza?


Influenza is often confused with common cold but it more serious and may also induce nausea or vomiting. Severe illness may even lead to pneumonia and may increase the risk of bronchitis and asthma in kids. Flu is contagious and spreads through sneezes, cough or touch.

Influenza virus is more likely to affect children below 6 years and old people.     



What is Influenza vaccine?


Influenza vaccine or flu shot is an annual vaccine which contains dead virus strains to protect against catching influenza. It is a preventive shot to which triggers antibodies production in body to ensure protection against the influenza virus which are in the vaccine.


How frequent flu vaccine needs to be taken?


Flu vaccine lasts for a year and should be taken every year with the advice of a medical practitioner.


What does flu shot protect against?


Flu shot is considered to be the best bet avoiding flu. This year’s flu vaccine that my nephew received also offers protection against H1N1 in addition to several other influenza virus strains.   




Does Flu vaccine protect against all flu virus?


No. There are hundreds of flu viruses and new ones keep appearing every year. Influenza vaccine usually contains protection against virus strains which are most likely to show up that year.

Sometimes people might catch flu even after vaccination but it is likely to be less severe than people who have not been vaccinated.


Why do we need to get flu vaccine shots every year?


Doctors recommend getting flu shot every year before the onset of flu season because influenza viruses evolve and older vaccine may not be enough to provide protection against newer staring of viruses.


Vaccination is a process which injects mild form of viruses into body thus helping body to create antibodies to fight the infection caused by those viruses. Since flu viruses evolve every year, the vaccines to are upgraded to provide additional protection. Hence, doctors recommend getting vaccinated every year.



When should one get Influenza vaccine/ Flu shot?


In India, new flu vaccines usually become available around September-October. It is best to get the shot in October as it is just before the onset of flu season.


Always discuss with your child’s paediatrician before administering the vaccine.



Does Flu vaccine causes Flu like symptoms?


We asked this question to the doctor and he categorically said that the vaccine itself will not cause any flu-like symptoms. However, since the vaccine takes a couple of weeks to start working, you might catch an infection before the body has gained enough immunity to fight the virus.



How much does it cost?


There are many vaccines available and your doctor will advise you on which one to go for. The one that my nephew opted for was around INR 800. Most vaccines will cost between INR 500 to INR 1000.



Recommended Read:


Top 10 tips to improve immunity naturally


Vaccination: Precautions, Side-effects and Free Immunization Chart


MMR Vaccine



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