Learn More About the Flu Vaccine and Why You Should Get It

Every year before winter comes, you begin to see signs, reminders, and public service announcements about protecting yourself from the flu with a vaccine. If you’re skeptical, or just unsure, about needing the flu vaccine, there are some very good arguments for taking a few minutes out of your day to get a simple shot.

Let’s start here: Last year saw some of the highest flu-related fatalities ever recorded — 80,000 — making 2017-2018 one of the deadliest flu seasons in US history. The flu vaccine can go a long way toward preventing a repeat of last year’s dismal numbers.

Here at OPĒS Health Channelside, we want to make sure our Tampa, Florida, patients have the tools they need to lead active, healthy lives, and avoid being sidelined by preventable illnesses. And one of the most effective tools in this preventive arsenal is the simple flu shot. With one small injection, we can save you and your family weeks of suffering through fever, body aches, headaches, and all of the other nasty side effects that are part and parcel of a flu.

Here’s a look at how the flu vaccine is made each year and why you should make it a key part of your routine preventive care.

Behind the global scenes

While getting a flu shot is an incredibly easy process, the time and research that go into that syringe is quite staggering. To start, medical researchers around the world collaborate to try and stay one step ahead of the flu. This starts with 142 influenza centers in 113 countries that focus solely on tracking the different mutations of the virus and recording the data.

From there, these centers make the data available to the five Centers for Reference and Research on Influenza, which operates under the World Health Organization. One of those five hubs is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

The CDC takes the global figures and analyzes them to predict how the flu will behave from one year to the next, how it will mutate, and where it may “travel” to. While the CDC’s scientists are coming up with their predictions, so, too, are the scientists at the other four centers.

To compare notes and come up with a plan, the experts from the five centers meet twice a year to form a consensus about how they believe the flu will behave in the coming year and what form it will take. They then make this information available to the companies that make the vaccines.

Bringing it home

In the US, the vaccine manufacturers first run the proposed vaccines through the FDA for approval. This means the vaccine is put through its paces to make sure it’s safe and effective. Once approved, the vaccine is made available to the medical community, including us here at OPĒS Health Channelside.

When we give you a flu shot, antibodies develop in your body over the following two weeks that provide critical protection if you’re exposed to the virus. The vaccines come in different forms because the CDC recommends that everyone above the age of 6 months should be vaccinated.

More than a guess

To call the extraordinary and coordinated effort that goes into a flu vaccine each year an “educated guess” would be a gross understatement. Countless hours of data collection, analysis, and research go into each shot, which is why the flu vaccine has enjoyed such success.

That said, it’s still a predictive process, and there have been years when the formulation wasn’t quite right. But these are the exceptions to a very solid and successful campaign that has helped millions of people, 40-60% of the vaccinated population in the US, sail through flu season with nary a sniffle.

Further, While you can still get the virus, the immunity you build up because of the vaccine makes it far less likely that your symptoms will be severe. How “less likely”? CDC data point to the flu shot preventing an estimated 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

On the heels of one of the worst flu seasons in history, give you and your family the best protection this year and call us to set up your flu shots. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to book an appointment.

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