Health

Should I get a flu shot during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Introduction to Flu Shot

The entire season this year falls under the category of flu season due to this ongoing pandemic situation. As the flu season approaches every year, the expert suggests getting a flu vaccine, which is effective in fighting back influenza. Also, it prevents millions of flu-related hospital visits every year. As we all know, the vaccine is not yet here for the COVID-19. But having some extra precaution from other flu keeps you away from the hospital area affected by the COVID virus. So if you are thinking, what to do and what not, then this article is for you. Let’s have a look:

What is a flu shot?

A flu shot or an influenza shot is a kind of vaccine which is applied through injecting into the body in the forms of the needles, usually in the arms, to create antibodies for the flu viruses. The seasonal flu shots are efficacious in giving protection against the 3-4 influenza viruses that occur during the flu seasons that appear 1-2 times in a year.

What is in the flu shot?

There are two types of flu shots or vaccines that come with multiple types of ingredients. Based on the types of ingredients, there are mainly two types of vaccines:

  1. Inactivated influenza vaccine: this kind of vaccine is made with the inactivated or killed viruses that are injected directly into the body to prevent the way of causing the flu.
  2. Live influenza vaccine: The LAIV or the live influenza vaccine is applied as a form of nasal spray that contains the weak yet live viruses to fight with the flu virus.

Ingredients of the flu shot:

  • Preservatives: The flu shots or the vaccines are made with the ingredients like the preservative thimerosal for multi dosing the vaccine vials. This is added to make the vaccine capable of cleaning the dreadful bacterias, fungus present in the vial.
  • Egg protein: The vaccine processing method includes the growth of viruses inside the fertilized chicken eggs. This contains some of the egg protein which enters into the body when injected or applied.
  • Stabilizer: Some of the ingredients, like the sorbitol, sucrose, MSG, or monosodium glutamate, are used for keeping the vaccine stable. This is added for preventing the vaccine from the loss of potency when exposed to light and heat.
  • Polysorbate 80: The addition of polysorbate is done to ensure the even distribution of all the ingredients.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics like the neomycin, gentamicin, etc. are added in a small amount for keeping the vaccine away from the bacteria contamination.
  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde in the vaccine makes sure the inactivation of the influenza virus, which ensures the active way in virus killing and antibody-forming.

Is the flu shot the same in Canada and the USA?

According to the latest reports, this season’s flu vaccines are more effective in Canada than in the USA. According to a Eurosurveillance study published on February 20, 2020, the overall vaccine-effectiveness (VE) against any influenza strain was 58 percent, including 74 percent in children ages 1 to 19 years. Read the full article here.

How long does the flu shot last?

The action or the effectiveness of the flu shot decreases in your body with the time. Whether you opt for the vaccination or you have a flu infection, it is going to become inactive with the passing day.

The nature of the influenza viruses constantly changes, and so is their growth. It is not necessarily possible that the vaccination of the previous flu season is going to protect you from the flu in this season. As the experts suggest, the effectiveness of a flu vaccine lasts up to six months.

picture-of-women-getting-flu-shot
Closeup of the doctor’s hands is vaccinations to patients using the syringe.

For that reason, receiving a seasonal flu vaccine is capable of offering you the protection from influenza or another flu-related sickness for the current flu season. But it may not work in the coming flu season. That is why it is recommended by the doctors or the experts to follow up on the flu shot or vaccination session every year for having the best protection in the time of seasonal flu.

Well, the scenario is different in the COVID affected situation. There is no vaccination for it as of now. And there is no assurance about the regular flu shots, about the fact that it can help. Rather having a flu shot in this situation will keep you safe from the normal seasonal flu, which will reduce the tension of your assuming the normal flu as the COVID – 19.

Influenza Vaccine for the 2020-2021 Season:

The FDA has released many of the flu shots for this 2020/2021 season. Here are the new releases:

Egg-based influenza vaccines:

  • An A/Guangdong- Maonan/ SWL1536 / 2019 (H1N1) pdm09 -like virus
  • A B / Washington/ 02 / 2019 – like virus (B/ Victoria lineage)
  • An A / Hongkong / 2671/ 2019 ( H3N2) – like virus
  • A B / Phuket / 3073/ 2013 – like virus (B/ Yamagata lineage)

The cell or the recombinant based influenza shots for the 2020-2021 season includes the followings:

  • An A/ Hawaii / 70 / 2019 ( H1N1) pdm 09 – like virus
  • A B / Phuket / 3073/ 2013 – like virus ( B / Yamagata lineage)
  • A B / Washington/ 02 / 2019 – like virus ( B / Victoria lineage )
  • An A / Hongkong / 2671/ 2019 ( H3N2) – like virus

On March 4, 2020, the FDA’s vaccines and the Related Biological Products Advisory Committee released this flu- shots for seasonal influenza for this season.

Benefits of the flu-shot:

The most prime benefit of the flu shot is to keep you stay protected from the yearly flu and the complications related to it. The vaccine reduces your possibilities of visiting the doctor in every flu season.therefore, the injecting or applying a vaccine charges the immunity system of your body that fights effectively with any of the flu-causing viruses. As per the reports in the flu-season of 2016-2017, the flu shot was able to prevent 2.6 million people from visiting the doctor and 5.6 million from falling ill.

A standard flu-shot or vaccine has the ability to prevent serious flu-related complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, etc. this is why it is important to stay vaccinated every year to lower the risks of getting attacked with such kinds of diseases or flu to stay healthy.

Are there any side effects of the flu shots?

Just like benefits, the flu shots have their drawbacks also, which can even be deadlier if you don’t pay attention to such complexities.

Most of the flu shot side effects include the following minor issues:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Redness, tenderness, or swelling at the area where the vaccine has been pushed

Though these side effects are not anything major and cure after some time on its own or with the help of medicines. However, the situation may get worse, and you need to visit the doctor on an emergency note in the following happens:

  • Eyes or lips swelling
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hives etc

When to get vaccinated?

You need to get vaccinated before the flu virus season starts spreading in your surroundings. It takes 2-3 weeks for the vaccination to start forming antibodies in the body for the development of flu protection. During the times of the October end, or the starting of July or August is the most popular flu season. However, the vaccination should be continued during the time of January or later the enhanced and effective protection from the flu seasons.

get your flu shot
Get your flu shots to fight against various illnesses and stay healthy.

Why is it necessary to take a flu shot every year?

A flu vaccine that you have taken in the last flu season may not be effective in the next season. The immune protection of the vaccination decreases over time, which doesn’t last more than 6-8 months. Thereby you need to get vaccinated once the time gets over. Moreover, the flu viruses change every year, which needs the vaccination to become updated to be more effective on the prevention. That’s why you need to get a flu shot annually for better protection for staying healthy and active in the flu-season every year.

Where to get my flu shot?

You can get your flu-shot in government and private hospitals, flu vaccine clinics, and pharmacies in your area.

Is a flu-shot effective to prevent COVID- 19?

This is a million-dollar question circulating over every platform. When Donald Trump asked this question in his white house roundtable discussion, he was answered back with a clear ” No” from an executive. The flu shots are effective in preventing the influenza viruses for which it was designed. But the nature of the coronavirus is different from the influenza virus, which is unstoppable with a regular flu shot.

Well, the possibilities are not yet ignored by the researchers. As the flu shots are helping in indirect ways to stay protected from the coronavirus. With the vaccination, your chances of getting affected with the normal flu reduce the chances of visiting hospitals that are already affected by corona cases, and you are more prone to get infected with visiting. However, it also serves protection from respiratory infections, which is important to retain the prevention from the coronavirus.

Conclusion:

Opting for the vaccination with the flu-shots are one of the safe measurements that you can adopt to stay tension free and healthy in this deadly pandemic season. There is no need to panic if any of the symptoms of flu appear, as it can be influenza. For such reasons, Flu-shots are best. But if you are experiencing any other distinctive symptoms, then it’s better to opt for the testa as soon as possible.

Adam Reeve

Adam Reeve is a dietitian who specializes in writing to enlighten the masses. He advocates for lifestyle changes through simple exercises and healthy diets, such as the ketogenic diet. His work is extensively researched to provide updated information to his readers. Adam spends his free time at the gym or hiking.

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