The Flu is caused by a virus known as Influenza. It can result in Symptoms such as high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing and tiredness. You can experience these symptoms about 2 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms of the Flu generally do not last longer than a week but however you can have a persistent cough that lasts longer.
The most famous and lethal outbreak was the 1918 Spanish Flu which killed between 50 and 100 million people. It had a high infection rate up to 50% and symptoms from it were quite extreme. It was not until 1944 that the first vaccine against influenza was developed by Thomas Francis Jr.
The more common Flu vaccinations are made using an egg-based manufacturing process. The viruses that are suspected to be most likely responsible for the flu for the upcoming flu season are isolated and injected into fertilized chicken eggs. They are incubated allowing the virus to replicate. The fluid in the egg now will be rich with the virus which can now be harvested. The virus is then inactivated (killed) and purified so it is ready to use as a part of vaccine. It is because of this process that you are not allowed to get certain types of Flu shot vaccines if you have an egg allergy.
After exposure to the Flu vaccine our immune system makes antibodies to protect itself in case they are ever presented with the real thing. However, it does take two weeks for our bodies to produce antibodies in response to the vaccine. If we are exposed to the virus it only takes 4 days for the virus to replicate and infect our cells. So it is possible to get sick within those two weeks after the vaccination as you may have been exposed to the virus and not enough time has elapsed for you to develop proper immunity against it.
The Flu vaccine will not make you sick because what is used in the vaccine is what is referred to as an inactivated form of the vaccine which basically means that the vaccine is dead. It can not lead to an active infection.
Some patients will experience some side effects from the vaccination. You can experience redness, swelling and discomfort where the needle was injected. You could have general feelings of tiredness or experience headaches or muscle pain. Some patients may even get a low grade fever or chills after their vaccination. However, not everyone will experience side effects from the vaccination. The vast majority of people do not have any side effects in response to the vaccination.
The Influenza virus changes and evolves rapidly so a vaccine was good for the previous year will not be relevant for this Flu season. There are four types of general Influenza strains known as Type A, B, C and D. Each strain however has many different subtypes.
Usually it is spread through the air from coughs and sneezes, which is why it is important to cover up when you cough or sneeze. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can also be exposed to it if you touch something that carries the virus such as someone's hand or a table and then touch your eyes or nose.
Everyone over the age of 6 months should receive the influenza vaccine. It is Free if you live, work or go to school in Alberta. People who do not get a Flu vaccination will be more at risk of contracting the virus influenza.
There are certain groups of patients who are considered more high risk because they are more vulnerable to the effects of an influenza infection. These groups include:
Some of the complications from the Flu can include:
In more serious situations a patient can experience:
When you cough or sneeze if you are sick cover up preferably with the crook of your elbow. If you ended up sneezing into your hand you will become a conduit for infection! For this reason it is good practice to wash your hands regularly. I do not recommend using hand sanitizer as this is just going to build resistance.
If you are sick Just stay home and take it easy! You need the rest and no point in exposing other people to the Flu.