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Your Personal Army – The Flu Vaccine Explained

Health • by Paul de Beyer • 30 July 2020

Every year you get told by your doctors to get a flu vaccine. But very few really explain why you need it – especially every single year.

Are doctors and pharmacies just out to make more money off you or is getting an annual flu vaccine really worth it?

How does the flu vaccine work?

Your body’s natural defence against diseases is the immune system which is made up of a variety of antibodies designed to fight off infections. Think of them as your own personal army of specialised units, trained and equipped to deal with a variety of attacks.

The flu vaccine intentionally stimulates your immune system to create new antibodies that are designed to fight off the flu virus. This means that if you do contract the flu virus after you’ve been vaccinated, your body’s army has already been trained and equipped with the right tools to fight off that disease.

It can take up to two weeks after you’ve been vaccinated for your body to create the antibodies needed to fight off the flu virus. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, but you may feel very mild symptoms that will cause you to think that you might be getting sick. Drink lots of water and rest. You cannot contract the flu from the vaccine.

Why do we need one every year?

The flu virus is a little different every year because it mutates into a variety of types and strains.
There are three types of flu virus:

Type A: a serious type that, when it mutates, is hard for the human body to fight off, e.g., H1N1 (swine flu)

Type B: a less severe type that is more common in children

Type C: a mild type that causes symptoms that are similar to that of a common cold

Each year there are different variations or strains of the three types of flu. This means that our personal antibody army needs to be trained up and equipped with new tools and skills each year to combat the new strains.

These seasonal flu strains are identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and a vaccine is made to combat the most common versions.

Where can I get one?

You can get your annual flu vaccine from your GP, local clinic or certain pharmacies that have a nurse on call.

As a GetSavvi Health member, you have access to the FeelBetterFast benefit where you can visit a network pharmacy for specific treatments such as a flu vaccine.

Simply contact our Call Centre on 0861 18 92 02 and a GetSavvi Health consultant will help you find one closest to you.

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm
https://www.medicinenet.com/flu_vaccination/article.htm
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/how-flu-vaccine-works/
https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/flu-shot-ingredients
https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/flu-shot
https://www.who.int/influenza/spotlight/5-myths-about-the-flu-vaccine

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