Your Best Shot Against the Flu
Millions of people get sick with influenza (aka the flu) each year. Even worse, complications from the flu can lead to hospitalization and even death.
The flu is a type of upper respiratory infection caused by various influenza viruses that mutate and spread from year to year. But even though flu viruses attack your lungs, nose, and throat, the flu can feel like it’s shutting down your entire body – leaving you tired, achy, and prone to fever and chills among other symptoms.
Thankfully, there’s a yearly vaccine that helps prevent both the spread and the more severe symptoms the flu can cause. This annual flu shot helps prepare your immune system for an upcoming flu attack, so it’s ready to fight off the real flu viruses that circulate around. It also keeps the flu from spreading!
Why is the flu shot yearly?
In an attempt to survive, flu viruses are constantly changing (or mutating) over time so they can “sneak” past our immune systems. Therefore, the flu shot is reviewed and updated each year based on the flu viruses (also called strains) that are most likely to make people sick. Getting your annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu – especially if you get your shot before flu season starts. You can also safely get your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations together!
How the Flu Shot Works
The flu shot works by introducing a type of protein – called antibodies – to your body so it can recognize and fight off specific influenza viruses. The flu shot itself uses an inactive form of these viruses, meaning it’s impossible for the flu shot to give you the flu!
These inactive viruses provide a type of blueprint for your immune system to understand and build a strong wall of defense, so when the real flu strikes, it’s far less likely to make you ill! It’s much like knowing your opponents’ game plan far in advance so you’re fully armed.
It does take approximately two weeks after your flu shot for these antibodies to form in your body. Getting your flu shot before flu season starts to peak – which could be anytime between early fall and late winter – allows these antibodies to fully develop so you’re prepared when flu season ramps up.
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