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Influenza is a disease that affects millions of people across the globe. A potentially severe illness, influenza, can result in hospitalization and in rare cases, even death.

There is no regular flu season. Each season is different and infections affect people differently. But, millions get infected, hundreds of thousands get hospitalized, and a substantial number (tens of thousands) die due to flu-related ailments every year.

The best prevention against getting flu is taking the annual flu vaccine.

Getting a flu vaccine has several benefits, which also includes the reduction of flu illness, reduced risk of hospitalizations and reduced risk of flu-related deaths.

The Works

Flu vaccines result in the development of antibodies in the body 10 to 15 days after vaccination. These antibodies play a significant role in fighting the infection caused by viruses used for making the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against various influenza viruses which are common during the season.

A majority of the vaccines present in the United States protect against four types of flu viruses. Also known as the quadrivalent vaccine, this vaccine protects against influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) virus and two types of influenza B virus.

There is also a trivalent vaccine that protects against three types of flu viruses - influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) virus, as well as one type of influenza B virus.

Vaccine manufacturers have developed specific vaccines for people aged 65 and above as they require a stronger immune response against influenza

Benefits Of Influenza Vaccine

There are numerous benefits of getting an influenza vaccine. Some of the common benefits of getting a shot include:

Prevents one from falling sick

Flu vaccine has helped in the prevention of millions of flu-related illness and doctor’s visits.

For instance, the year 2017-2018 saw the prevention of nearly 6.2 million influenza-associated illnesses, 3.2 million medical visits, 91,000 hospitalizations, as well as 5,700 deaths. There was also almost a 50-60% reduction in doctor visits.

Can decrease flu-associated hospitalization in children and adults

A study showed that in 2017-2018 annual flu shot helped in preventing nearly 91,000 hospitalizations.

The risk of flu-associated PICU admission also fell by nearly 75% in children during 2010-2012 flu seasons. Studies in recent years have also shown that taking annual vaccines helped in the reduction of flu-related hospitalizations in adults by nearly 40%.

The risk of ICU admission among adults also saw a fall of a whopping 80% when the annual flu vaccine was taken.

A preventive tool for patients with chronic health conditions

Studies have shown that flu vaccines have helped in the reduction of certain cardiac events in patients with cardiovascular diseases, especially people with a recent cardiac event.

There was also a reduction in flu-related hospitalization for chronic lung disease in COPD patients. Flu vaccination has also been shown to reduce the rate of hospitalizations among diabetic people and pregnant women.

Reduction in risk of flu-related acute respiratory infections in pregnant women

A study conducted in 2018 which studied flu season from 2010 to 2016 showed that a flu vaccine reduced the risk of a pregnant woman getting hospitalized for flu treatment by nearly 40%.

Studies have also shown that besides protecting pregnant women, flu vaccines also provide adequate protection to the baby for several months after its birth, especially at an age when vaccination is not possible.

Can save lives of children

A first-of-its-kind study conducted in 2017 showed that flu vaccination significantly reduced the risk of a child dying from flu-related complications.

Reduced severity of illness

Getting regular flu vaccine has shown to decrease the severity of illness in patients who get sick despite vaccinations.

Decreased hospital stay

Annual flu vaccination has shown to reduce the number of ICU admissions, length of stay, and overall hospitalization in people having influenza and associated ailments.

Protection within the community

Getting vaccinated not only helps you but also helps in protecting people around, including the more vulnerable group like babies, young children, older people, as well as people suffering from certain chronic medical conditions.

Takeaway

Every winter, several million get flu. Getting a flu vaccine is the most effective way of preventing yourself and the family from developing flu.

There are several benefits of getting the flu vaccination. There are also certain risks with them, but the benefits far outweigh these. Discuss with your doctor all your concerns before getting a flu shot.