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20 Dec 2021
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What is Influenza Vaccine?

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.

Influenza Vaccine Types

There are three types of flu vaccines:

 

  • Egg-Based

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.

  • Cell-Based

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.

  • Recombinant

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.

Why is the Influenza Vaccine Given?

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.

How do the Influenza Vaccine Doses Work?

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.

How is the Influenza Vaccine Administered?

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.

  • Visit the Medical Center

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.

  • Quick Check-Up

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.

  • Vaccine Dose is Calculated

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.

  • Vaccine is Administered

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.

Who Should be Given the Influenza Vaccine?

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.

  • Elderly Individuals

Individuals who are 65 years of age and above.

  • Healthcare Practitioners

Healthcare workers who are at risk of being exposed to flu patients.

  • People Working in Medical Care Facilities

Individuals who live in a nursing home or an assisted care facility.

  • People with Chronic Health Issues

People who have chronic conditions like HIV, diabetes, asthma, or any heart condition.

  • People with Weaker Immunity

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.

Who Should Not be Given the Influenza Vaccine?

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.

  • History of Vaccine Reaction

People who have developed a severe reaction to the influenza vaccine in the past.

  • Those Allergic to Ingredients

Individuals who are allergic to the ingredients of the vaccine.

  • Infants

Infants who are less than six months old.

  • History of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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

What is Influenza Vaccine Made of?

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

Egg protein

As many vaccines are manufactured by growing the virus inside chicken eggs, the vaccines are bound to contain some amount of egg protein

Preservatives

These are used to protect the vaccines from contamination as most vaccines are manufactured in multi-vial doses

Stabilizers

Stabilizers are a key ingredient as they keep the vaccines stable especially when exposed to heat and light

Polysorbate 80

This is an emulsifier that keeps all the other ingredients of the vaccine evenly distributed

Formaldehyde

This compound is used to inactivate the influenza virus

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are added to the vaccine in small amounts to prevent contamination from bacteria

What Happens if I Miss Influenza Vaccine Doses?

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.

Pros & Cons Of the Influenza Vaccine

1. Pros:

  • You gain immunity against the influenza virus

  • Lesser risk of hospitalisation for children, pregnant women, and older adults

2. Cons:

  • You experience side effects after getting the vaccine

  • Some may experience severe allergic reactions

Influenza Vaccine Side effects

If you have taken a shot of the influenza vaccine, it is best to stay prepared to experience the following side effects.

  • Muscle pain

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness and fainting

  • Fever

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.

Conclusion

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.

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FAQs

  • ✔️Who should take the flu vaccine?

    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.

  • ✔️Where can I take the flu vaccine?

    ­­You can take the flu vaccine by visiting a medical centre of your choice that administers the shot.

  • ✔️How much does influenza vaccine cost?

    An influenza vaccine cost ranges between ₹800 to ₹1,500 per shot.

  • ✔️How long is an influenza vaccine good for?

    An influenza vaccine gives protection against flu for around 6 months.

  • ✔️What are the disadvantages of the flu shot?

    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.