In the US flu season starts in November and lasts until April. Each year, around 20% of the American population contract seasonal flu. For most people, flu will pass relatively quickly, but it may cause complications for young children and the elderly. Having a flu shot can help people escape the discomfort of this virus.
People at high risk
Some people are at a higher risk of contracting flu than others. The high-risk group includes men and women over 50, children between 6 months and 18 years, elderly persons who live in retirement homes, healthcare providers, and teachers. People who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or who have a compromised immune system are also at a higher risk than others.
Flu shots: do they really help?
The flu shot has a success rate between 40%-60%. People can still contract seasonal flu even if they have had a flu vaccine, though they will experience fewer symptoms and it will not last as long. The flu shot is administered with a needle to the arm. The vaccine contains a flu virus, but it is not alive. The flu shot is approved by the FDA for children over six months of age, healthy adults and adults who are suffering from chronic health conditions.
As well as the flu shot, there is also a nasal spray. The spray contains very weak strains of flu virus. Like the flu shot, the nasal spray does not cause anyone to get flu. The nasal vaccine is approved by the FDA for healthy people between the age of 2-49 years of age, except for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Flu shots: the downside
Although flu shots and nasal vaccines do not cause the recipient to get flu, there may be some side effects. These include runny nose, sore throat, headache, and dry cough. The CDC recommends that people who have has a previous allergic reaction to a flu shot or who have a known allergy to eggs should not have a flu shot.