6 flu vaccine myths that are not true

Health Tips

Myth #1

A single flu shot provides lifelong immunity

This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions. The duration of immunity after influenza vaccination is relatively short and is only 6-12 months from the date of administration. Therefore, if there are no contraindications to vaccination, it is advisable to vaccinate annually.

In addition, do not forget that the influenza virus has a huge number of subspecies, which are called strains. So, every year the virus mutates and a new strain is born, which has its own specific properties. Effective immunity is maintained only to a specific strain of the virus. Therefore, every year flu vaccines change and include a strain of the virus that is relevant specifically for the coming season. Without vaccination, it can cause illness even in those who have had the flu no more than a year ago.

Therefore, every year, immunologists develop a special vaccine, taking into account the upcoming version of the virus this particular season. Therefore, every year it is necessary to be vaccinated again.

Myth #2

Need to get vaccinated in the midst of an epidemic

Another common misconception is that the flu is exclusively a winter disease, while the season for this disease, according to the World Health Organization, typically runs from October to May.

Not many people know, but our immunity to diseases is not developed immediately, but 1-2 weeks after vaccination. It is this time that is required for the production of antibodies, due to which immunity is strengthened and resistance to diseases increases. Therefore, it is advisable to vaccinate in advance, for example, in October.

However, if it happens that for some reason you do not have time to do this before the peak of influenza activity, it is never too late to get vaccinated at the peak of the disease. Getting vaccinated even in January will be an effective way to prevent the flu and help you protect yourself and your loved ones from this disease.

Myth #3

Flu shots are ineffective and useless

Despite the fact that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, as practice shows, the vaccine works in 60-70% of cases. Each year, when developing a new vaccine, immunologists choose the strains of influenza that they consider most likely to appear in the new season. The effectiveness of the vaccine directly depends on how accurate the choice is.

In addition, much depends on the state of the immune system of a particular person. For example, in older people, immunity is often weakened, respectively, and the risk of disease is higher. It happens that the flu gets sick even after the immune system has formed. But vaccinated people tolerate the flu much easier than unvaccinated people and, most importantly, without complications.

Myth #4

After vaccination, a person becomes a carrier of infection for a short time.

A vaccinated person is not a source of infection. The vaccine can trigger an immune response in the body that resembles mild symptoms of the disease, such as muscle pain or a low temperature.

However, the vaccine does not contain the virus itself, it includes only its fragments – specific sections of the envelope that are not capable of reproduction. Accordingly, vaccination cannot cause disease in any way.

Myth #5

The flu shot is contraindicated during pregnancy

Many people believe, completely unreasonably, that the flu vaccine causes fetal malformations and is therefore contraindicated during pregnancy. However, there is no scientific evidence for this. In addition, pregnant women are especially vulnerable and at risk, so in their case, vaccination is not only safe, but also essential.

The deactivated flu vaccine is absolutely harmless to the unborn baby, which, unfortunately, cannot be said about the disease itself. Influenza carried by a woman in the first trimester of pregnancy can threaten the fetus with serious disorders and increase the risk of abortion.

In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, influenza threatens not only the life of the child, but also the life of the expectant mother. Therefore, if you are expecting a baby and did not have time to get vaccinated against the flu in advance, doctors recommend doing this starting from the 14th week of pregnancy after consulting with your doctor. Study finds that vaccinating a woman during pregnancy helps protect her baby from the flu in the first few months of life

Myth #6

The flu vaccine is contraindicated in children

The flu shot is not recommended for infants under 6 months of age. It is believed that at this age they are less susceptible to the influenza virus, as they received immunity from the mother, through the placenta and breast milk. However, by the age of 6 months, the body’s natural defenses are completely lost and the baby becomes completely defenseless against this disease.

To date, there are vaccines that allow children to be vaccinated against influenza from 6 months. If you have never had your child vaccinated against the flu, they will need two doses of the vaccine. A month must pass between the first and second vaccinations. However, it should be noted that two doses of the vaccine with an interval of one month are administered only in the first year of vaccination.

Further, the vaccine is given only once a year. It helps the body to form the so-called immunological memory cells, which gradually strengthen the immune system. As with adults, the best time to get vaccinated is in October to give the body time to develop immunity.

Photo: Vostock-photo

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