Influenza (also called "the flu") is a viral infection in the nose, throat and lungs. About 10 to 20 percent people get the flu each year. Some people get very sick. Tens of thousands die every year in
What are the Symptoms of FLU?
The flu may cause fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or a stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Some people describe the flu as the worst cold of their life. If you get the flu, you should feel better after one or two weeks. But in some people, the flu leads to serious, even life-threatening diseases, like pneumonia. Some people are more likely to get the serious complications. A vaccine (the flu shot) is recommended for these high-risk people to protect them from the flu.
Who is at higher risk?
You have a higher risk of flu complications if you:
- Less than 5 years age
- Are 60 years of age or older
- Are a doctor, nurse or working in a hospital
- Have a lung problem, such as asthma or emphysema
- Have Diabetes
- Have a suppressed immune system
- Have a problem with your kidneys
- Have heart disease or other long-term health problems
If you are in any of these risk groups, you should get the flu vaccine every year.
Even if you're not at higher risk, you may want to get the flu vaccine so you don't get sick with the flu.
What is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is an injection. It contains killed viruses. You can't get the flu from the vaccine because the viruses are dead. Instead, the vaccine protects you from the flu. When a "live" virus shows up, your defenses are ready. These defenses keep you from getting the flu. Because flu viruses change from year to year, you must get the shot each year to be protected.
When should I get the vaccine?
You should get the vaccine at the beginning of the flu season, sometime in September onwards. You can get the shot later in the year too, but because flu season usually begins in the winter months, it would be best to be protected before that time.
If I get a flu shot, can I still get the flu?
Yes. Even with a flu shot, you aren't 100 percent protected. Each year, the flu vaccine contains three different strains (kinds) of the virus. Depending on the strains used, the Flu vaccine is 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing the flu in healthy people under 65 years of age. If you're older than 65, the vaccine is less likely to prevent the flu. Even if you get the flu after the vaccine, your flu symptoms should be milder than if you didn't get the vaccine. You'll also be less likely to get complications from the flu.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. The flu vaccine is safe for all age groups over six months of age. There are very few side effects too. Your arm may be sore for a few days. You may have a fever, feel tired or have sore muscles for a short time. If you have a severe allergy to eggs, you shouldn't get the shot.
Do you take the FLU vaccine?
Yes, I have personally been taking the FLU vaccine for the last 3 years, ever since it was made available in
Will the vaccine be effective against swine flu?
As of now we do not really know, however we must remember that Seasonal Flu kills far more people than Swine Flu, and it is as serious a disease. For the high risk people mentioned above, taking this vaccine is a great way to reduce complications from this common disease.
Dr Gaurav Gupta
Charak Clinics, Phase VII, Mohali