WHAT IS THE INFLUENZA VACCINE?
The influenza vaccine helps reduce the risk of getting the flu, a potentially serious virus that can affect the respiratory system (nose, throat and lungs).
Influenza infection usually resolves with treatment, but some people may be more vulnerable to complications. Those at risk include children under the age of 5, pregnant women, people over 65 and people of all ages with weakened immune systems and certain chronic diseases. When vulnerable people get the flu, it can be life-threatening.
WHAT DOES THE VACCINE DO?
The influenza vaccine helps your body make antibodies against the flu virus. These antibodies give you increased immunity against influenza infection when your body is exposed to it. It may take approximately 2 weeks before the vaccine takes full effect.
There are many variations of the flu and these can change each year. This is why it is important to get vaccinated annually, before the start of the flu season to protect yourself against the respiratory viruses most likely to circulate.
It is also necessary for preventive reasons to get vaccinated every year to solidify the antibodies that protect you against the flu.
WHO SHOULD GET THE VACCINE AND WHEN?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months should receive an annual flu shot.
If you are among the category of people at high risk of developing complications, it is very important to get vaccinated.
You are considered a high risk person if:
- You are over 65 or under 5,
- Are pregnant (at all stages),
- Live or work with a large number of people (doctors, military barracks or retirement homes, teachers),
- You have a weak immune system (for example, if you have HIV or cancer, or if you are taking immunosuppressive drugs or chronic steroids),
- You have a Chronic Condition (like diabetes, heart disease, COPD, asthma, blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, chronic kidney disease, among others),
- If you are medically recognized as obese (with a body mass index greater than 40)
The vaccine can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding
WHO SHOULD NOT GET THE VACCINE?
- Children under 6 months
- People who have had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past.
These recommendations apply to the inactivated influenza vaccine.
- Children over 6 months and adults: one dose
- Children 6 months to 9 years of age who have never received the vaccine before: two doses 4 weeks apart.
These doses comply with the BNF for adults and children.
ARE THERE RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS?
Most of the side effects associated with the flu vaccine are mild. Common symptoms may include pain, swelling or redness during the vaccine stage. There may also be additional symptoms such as:
- Fever (if children under 2 years old)
- Muscle aches
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Some studies have found a possible association with a rare disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), but this represents less than 1 or 2 people in a million people vaccinated.
The vaccines (available in our clinic) can be administered safely to people with anaphylaxis. Studies have shown that influenza vaccines containing less than one microgram of ovalbumin do not trigger anaphylaxis in sensitive people.
King’s College Hospital London offers you a special flu vaccine offer at 75AED until the end of January 2020