Back to school season brings fall foliage, crisp air, and new opportunities. Unfortunately, it also brings opportunities for the flu. Being surrounded by hundreds of other kids means your children might be at risk for catching the flu. The best way to protect your little ones from the flu virus is with a flu shot.
Flu shots are developed each year to protect against particular strains of flu.
What Exactly Is a Flu Vaccine?
Scientists develop vaccines after carefully studying which viruses will be around that year. The vaccine protects against four total flu viruses. To many, the flu is a manageable sickness that means a few missed days of work and will get better with fluids and rest. But for the elderly, children, and people with weaker immune systems, the flu can cause serious problems, even death.
Why Do I Have to Get One Every Year?
Flu shots are important not only to the health of you and your children, but to people around you. The flu spreads easily and rapidly, and people vary in their abilities to overcome the complications of the flu. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates that the flu affects up to 20% of the entire U.S. population each year. The CDC recommends everyone older than 6 months of age be vaccinated each year. The reason people should be vaccinated annually is because the flu virus changes from year to year.
Each year, researchers study and predict which strains of flu will be the most prevalent. Then, they develop vaccines based on these predictions. When you get a flu shot, the vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies against those particular strains of the virus. It essentially “teaches” your immune system how to fight off the flu. It usually takes around two weeks for your body to develop the proper antibodies. Afterwards, if you are exposed to the flu, your immune system will use the antibodies to fight off the virus.