The influenza vaccine, commonly called the flu shot, was formulated to help individuals gain immunity against the influenza virus. The influenza virus, also known as the flu, has recorded nearly 10 million cases in India every year. Several people experienced symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, runny nose, congestion, and more. This viral infection has varying risk factors depending on the immunity of the individual.
The influenza injection helps protect individuals against infections from the influenza virus. These vaccines are safe and may cause mild side effects once the vaccine is administered. All the influenza vaccine doses have to be taken for the body‘s immune response to be at its best.
There are three types of flu vaccines:
This type of vaccine is the oldest form and is made using an egg-based manufacturing process. This process requires chicken eggs to develop the vaccine.
FDA approved this type of vaccine in 2012 and it is also used to make inactivated flu vaccines. They do not require chicken eggs because the vaccine is grown in animal cells.
This type of vaccine doesn’t require an egg-grown vaccine virus and uses a recombinant technology process. This method got approved for use in 2013.
The flu vaccine is usually given because the flu is infectious and can cause severe respiratory infections. Typically, the flu is confused with the common cold. The common cold is not particularly extreme and lasts only up to a few days. On the other hand, the flu can cause severe symptoms and can stay for a prolonged period. In addition to these flu infections, superinfections may also occur in some cases. Superinfections are essentially bacterial infections that occur followed by a respiratory infection. So, to stay protected from such illnesses and their dire side effects, anti flu vaccine is administered.
The influenza vaccine doses work like the pathway of any other vaccine. To begin with, the flu vaccine, irrespective of whether it is an inactivated virus, recombinant or live virus, instigates the human body to produce antibodies. These antibodies would further act as the body’s defense system and protect the body from all influenza virus strains. As the influenza virus keeps mutating quite often, it is recommended to get booster shots to ensure that your body’s immune response is still effective to all the virus strains.
Now that you have understood why it is given and how this vaccine actually works, let’s take a look at how the influenza vaccine is administered.
First, you will be asked to arrive at a medical centre or a hospital as per your choice during a particular time with an appointment. The entire process of giving the anti flu vaccine is fairly simple.
Next, your vitals will be checked. Usually, your blood pressure and pulse would be measured. Then, the flu vaccine cost would be mentioned to you before you complete the payment.
The next step involves the healthcare practitioner asking you to sit in a comfortable position. Meanwhile, the nurse/doctor calculates the dose that should be administered to you based on your age and gets the syringe prepared.
Finally, the vaccine will be administered to you on your upper arm. Before you leave, you will be instructed on what to do in case of any side effects.
The flu vaccine is essential to all age groups to stay protected from the influenza virus. However, the following classes of people are prioritised when it comes to administering the vaccine.
Individuals who are 65 years of age and above.
Healthcare workers who are at risk of being exposed to flu patients.
Individuals who live in a nursing home or an assisted care facility.
People who have chronic conditions like HIV, diabetes, asthma, or any heart condition.
Individuals with a compromised immune system.
In addition to these individuals, it is recommended for everyone to get the flu vaccine as a measure of precaution.
The flu vaccine carries several benefits along with it; however, a few individuals should avoid getting the vaccine administered as it would cause more harm than good. For instance, the flu vaccine for kids is encouraged, but not for infants. The following individuals should avoid getting the vaccine.
People who have developed a severe reaction to the influenza vaccine in the past.
Individuals who are allergic to the ingredients of the vaccine.
Infants who are less than six months old.
People who have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that causes paralysis and weakness.
Besides, the following category of people should ensure to avoid the nasal spray:
Individuals above the age of 50
Women who are pregnant
People with a weak immune system
Individuals with chronic conditions like lung disease, asthma, etc.
People with a severe allergy to chicken eggs
The influenza vaccine either contains the inactivated virus (killed flu viruses) or the weakened influenza virus (live but weakened flu viruses). There are 6 main ingredients that are used in the flu shot.
Name of the Ingredient
Function of the Ingredient
As many vaccines are manufactured by growing the virus inside chicken eggs, the vaccines are bound to contain some amount of egg protein
These are used to protect the vaccines from contamination as most vaccines are manufactured in multi-vial doses
Stabilizers are a key ingredient as they keep the vaccines stable especially when exposed to heat and light
This is an emulsifier that keeps all the other ingredients of the vaccine evenly distributed
This compound is used to inactivate the influenza virus
Antibiotics are added to the vaccine in small amounts to prevent contamination from bacteria
While it is best to have all doses of the vaccine administered, it sometimes can happen that you miss a dose due to unavoidable circumstances. The downside of missing a dose is that the efficiency of the vaccine reduces in the body.
Having the second shot of the vaccine strengthens the immune system to fight back in case the body is infected with the influenza virus. However, missing the shot lessens the strength of the immune system to fight back.
You gain immunity against the influenza virus
Lesser risk of hospitalisation for children, pregnant women, and older adults
You experience side effects after getting the vaccine
Some may experience severe allergic reactions
If you have taken a shot of the influenza vaccine, it is best to stay prepared to experience the following side effects.
Dizziness and fainting
Rarely, some individuals face severe allergic reactions to the flu shot. In such cases or in cases of any severe side effects, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.
In case you have taken the nasal spray, you may experience mild flu-like symptoms after the spray. However, this side effect is most prominent in children.
The flu, although commonly neglected to be the common cold, can cause severe problems and can sometimes be life-threatening. So, ensure to get flu shots at the earliest to stay safe and protect yourself from the influenza virus. The influenza vaccine in India is priced typically between ₹800 and ₹1,500 per shot. In addition, if you are concerned about the side effects, it is best to consult a healthcare practitioner before getting the vaccine shot.
While you get yourself vaccinated against serious illnesses, it is important to be prepared against any emergencies. And, the best way you can be financially prepared is by getting health insurance. Availing health insurance policies to cover vaccination costs is a smart idea. They are crucial to ensuring that you get the right care before contracting influenza.
The influenza vaccine should be taken by individuals of all age groups except infants. However, some classes of people are prioritised for taking the flu vaccine. They are elderly individuals, healthcare practitioners, people working in medical care facilities, people with chronic health issues and those with weaker immunity.
You can take the flu vaccine by visiting a medical centre of your choice that administers the shot.
An influenza vaccine cost ranges between ₹800 to ₹1,500 per shot.
An influenza vaccine gives protection against flu for around 6 months.
Usually, there are no major disadvantages of a flu shot but you might experience some mild side effects like soreness, redness or swelling around the vaccinated area, fever, etc. Some people may also experience severe allergic reactions.