It’s flu-shot season; experts recommend everyone get one
September 29, 2010
SUMMIT COUNTY — Among stories that have faded from the limelight this year, swine flu may be near the top of the list.
This year, H1N1 – the technical term for swine flu – is among three strains of influenza for which recipients of flu shots will be vaccinated against for the 2010-2011 flu season, which may help to explain why the hysteria surrounding the virus has subsided this year.
“The 2010-2011 flu shot will protect against three different viruses: H3N2, Influenza B and the H1N1 virus, better known as swine flu,” Michela Holcomb, Infection Preventionist with St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. “All of these caused viruses last season, and that’s what the Centers for Disease Control looks at to develop for the next year.”
It is possible that if a new strain emerges – much like H1N1 did recently – the flu shot would not protect against it, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, http://www.cdc.gov, the vaccine prevents influenza in 70 to 90 percent of healthy individuals under the age of 65. Because of this, vaccine experts voted this year to recommend all those over six months in age should get vaccinated. In addition to this recommendation, the CDC also issued a list of groups of people for whom influenza vaccinations are highly recommended (see box).
And while some may not enjoy the prick in the arm, the side effects of flu shots are minimal and should not last more than a day.
“The soreness some people experience is caused by the immune system sending antibodies to fight the infection,” Holcomb said.
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The vaccination actually contains a small amount of each of the three influenza viruses against which it protects. Those vaccinated do not, however, risk actual infection because the injected viruses are dead. Like any vaccination, there is a small risk of allergic reaction or other side effects, and anyone with questions should consult a physician.