Flu shots: myths and facts

Health Tips

With the approach of the runny nose and colds, we are increasingly visited by the thought of vaccinations. No wonder, because everyone around is only talking about the influenza epidemic, about the antigenic variability and insidiousness of the types of the virus – they say that every year the influenza virus changes, becomes more and more dangerous for the human body.

As a result, each of us sooner or later thinks about how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this scourge. But there is still no consensus on the best way to prevent influenza. Someone prefers to harden, take various vitamin complexes, dress warmly and avoid contact with sick people. And someone may consider all these measures to be completely frivolous and actively advocate for a preventive flu shot.

Today, together with Goodshapetips, we will try to form our own opinion and make our own decision.

A Brief History of the Influenza Virus

First of all, it is worth understanding what this very influenza virus is and where it came from. Back in 1903, a group of British scientists conducted experiments on white ferrets. Suddenly, one of the group members, Wilson Smith, came down with the flu. Then the scientists decided to take a swab from his nasopharynx and inject it into the respiratory tract of healthy ferrets. And the ferrets got sick!

Moreover, sick animals infected the rest, an epidemic arose. It became clear that the researchers transferred the causative agent of the disease from a person with influenza to ferrets, and it was not a bacterium, but a filterable virus.

The first strain of this virus was named VS, after the initials of Wilson Smith, with whose participation it was isolated. In Russia, swabs from the nasopharynx from patients with influenza were administered to mice, but the disease proceeded much more severely, often with fatal pneumonia. It was in this way that in 1936-1937 Professor Smorodintsev A.A. and Zilberman L.A. isolated and fixed the first domestic strains of the virus.

What awaits us this winter

Today, after many years, it became known that the influenza virus is extremely variable. What are the symptoms of the flu of the end of 2013?

Despite some mysticism of the number “13”, the current year will not surprise us with another viral “surprises”. The expected symptoms are quite well known and typical: fever, headache, “failure”, body aches, discomfort in the larynx, the appearance of a sharp cough, turning into a “barking”.

Will vaccinations help prevent disease? Let’s take a closer look at all the pros and cons, and at the same time analyze what is a myth and what is reality.

Myths about flu shots

Let’s start with the myths, and here’s the first one:if you get vaccinated, you won’t get sick“. In fact, both a vaccinated person and a person who refuses to be vaccinated can get sick. The purpose of vaccination is not to protect against the disease in principle, the main thing is to minimize the risk of possible serious complications.

The second myth concerns immunity. Allegedly once vaccinated, we get stable immune protection against the influenza virusabout the same as in cases with vaccinations against measles, smallpox, and so on.

Unfortunately, this is by no means true: firstly, the influenza virus itself is constantly mutating and changing; secondly, artificially grafted immunity “works” for only three to four months, and then disappears. Thus, there is a real possibility of having the flu several times a season.

Well, the third myth concerning the financial side of the issue. You should not think that the flu shot is completely free for all citizens.. At the expense of the state, people of certain specialties can be vaccinated, to whom this right is made a duty. These are public transport drivers, police officers and doctors. In addition, pensioners and schoolchildren, as well as children attending kindergartens, have the right to count on preferential vaccination. Other applicants will have to be vaccinated at their own expense.

All the pros and cons of flu vaccination

And now let’s clearly highlight all the pros and cons. What will help us make a positive decision about flu shots? First of all – this same financial factor. Remember that by saving on vaccinations, you risk spending 10 times more on flu treatment, especially if there are various complications. And if you really value your work and it is completely unprofitable for you to get sick, then vote “for” the vaccine.

It is no secret that children are much more difficult to tolerate the disease than adults, and the most dangerous thing is that babies can develop very serious complications, up to asthma and pneumonia. Therefore, another argument is “for”: vaccinations reduce the risk of influenza complications in children by 30%, and halve the number of deaths! Impressive, isn’t it? As for pregnant women, Rospotrebnadzor recommends getting a flu shot at 14 weeks of gestation. Vaccines are also recommended for breastfeeding mothers.

Finally, there are groups at higher risk for influenza. This applies to people who often travel to tropical countries, where influenza epidemics occur almost all year round. Also, special attention should be paid to those who spend a lot of time in isolated closed groups and in public transport.

No less serious should be taken to the arguments “against” the flu shot. Highlighted perfectly clear contraindications to vaccination:

  • chicken protein allergy
  • exacerbation of chronic diseases,
  • elevated body temperature,
  • Serious reactions to previous influenza vaccinations.

With caution, one should treat the manifestation of any allergic reactions in general in a person who is thinking about vaccination. The immunity of an allergic person is generally weakened, and against the background of regular anti-influenza vaccinations, the body’s ability to respond to viral attacks is further reduced. As for a healthy person, his immunity also weakens, surviving on the vaccine season after season. And if one day you skip the next vaccination, or the influenza virus mutates seriously, there is a risk of a severe course of the disease, up to the development of complications.

Do you need a vaccination?

Thus, the final decision on whether to get a flu shot is up to you. Analyze all the pros and cons, correlate them with the specific health status of each of your family members, and for this, consult your doctor. There is no and cannot be a single, once and for all opinion, since all human organisms are unique and an individual approach is necessary for each patient. If, however, we try to draw a conclusion that summarizes the most diverse points of view of practicing doctors, we can derive several immutable rules, namely:

  • in case of a positive decision in favor of vaccination, you should know that vaccination is carried out only before the start of the disease season
  • the day before the procedure, as well as immediately after it, it is recommended to take an antihistamine to prevent allergic reactions
  • the body can react with an increase in temperature, this is the norm, since vaccination is an artificial interference in the human immune system.

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