The Importance of Your Annual Flu Shot
Influenza is an infectious virus, which is particularly dangerous for children and the elderly. Aside from the fact that it is highly contagious, its highly variable nature produces new strains, which render existing vaccines ineffective. Each year, millions of doses of the Flu Shot are administered to the public to combat new strains of the disease. In some cases, the flu can eventually lead to pneumonia, which has grave implications for those with weaker immune systems.
Symptoms of the Disease
It is not unusual for people suffering from the flu to assume that they have the common cold. Flu symptoms appear relatively quickly, usually within one or two days. Joint pain and fever are probably the most common symptoms. Sufferers may also experience headaches, weakness, nasal congestion, coughing and runny nose. A number of over the counter medications are marketed as being able to lessen the severity of flu symptoms. While many of them are effective for this purpose, they should not be confused with treatments for the flu virus itself. Similarly, some people believe that proper diet and a healthy lifestyle can protect you from illnesses like the flu. Since it is caused by a virus, the flu is spread by coughing or through physical contact, and healthy people can still become infected. Taking the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from this illness.
Protecting Yourself from the Flu
Vaccination is necessary each year to offer the best protection against the flu. Typically, one vaccine is thought to remain effective in the body for two to three years, but regular vaccinations protect you from new strains. Due to the number of flu related deaths each year, there is understandable concern about the availability and effectiveness of flu shots. Some people without medical insurance may wonder if they will be able to be able to afford getting vaccinated.
The vaccine is not a complete guarantee against getting the flu, but if you do become infected, it can significantly lessen the symptoms.