By Dr. Eric U. Iheme, MD
What is the Flu?
Flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus that infects millions people around the world every year. The CDC estimates that up to 11% of the US population is infected every year.
People infected are very contagious and can easily spread it to others.
Symptoms of Flu can range from very mild to severe:
- Headache or Body Aches
- Nasal symptoms
- Sore Throat
- Severe Respiratory or breathing complications
Certain population groups are at higher risk for complications from Flu Infection
- Elderly adults 65+
- Adults with certain Chronic Health conditions including but not limited to Sickle Cell, Kidney Disease, Heart Disease, HIV/Aids, certain cancers
- Pregnant Women
- Children younger than 2 years old
How can a Flu shot keep me from getting the Flu?
- The flu shot contains antigens, which are molecules that allow your body to make antibodies that are designed specifically to fight off flu infection. This is similar to how other vaccines work.
- Your body then uses these new antibodies to fight of new flu antigens that enter your body and prevent them from infecting you and causing the flu.
Do I need a Flu shot every year?
Some vaccines last several years (some even last for life), the flu vaccine is different. The influenza virus that causes flu changes (or mutates) rapidly. As a result, every year these mutations create a different strain of influenza that causes illness. A new flu vaccine is created each year to keep up with these changes and give us the best protection against infection.
According to the CDC, everyone 6 months of age or over needs an annual flu shot.
Dr. Eric U. Iheme, MD, is an emergency medicine physician with SignatureCare Emergency Center.