Saturday, January 20, 2018
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Vaccinations and the Flu Vaccine

It is better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Scientists are constantly researching viruses, micro-organisms and toxins to see if these merit producing a vaccine for. When the benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risks of the illness a vaccine is produced and put on to the countries vaccine schedule.

What is a Vaccine and Vaccination?

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and keep a record of it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters.

The administration of vaccines is called vaccination.

The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner to denote cowpox. He used it in 1798 in the long title of his Inquiry into the...Variolae vaccinae known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox. In 1881, to honour Jenner, Louis Pasteur proposed that the terms should be extended to cover the new protective inoculations then being developed.

How Safe are Vaccines?

A vaccine is only registered if it is safe, effective, and the benefits outweigh the risks.

When Vaccines are developed and produced they tested at several stages. They are tested for Safety, effectiveness and shelf stability. Before a vaccine gets to us, it has gone through several years of testing and clinical trials.

Vaccines are made in batches and each batch goes through its own set of tests to ensure it is safe, pure and potent.

How effective are Vaccines?

Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases; widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the restriction of diseases such as polio, measles, and tetanus from much of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that licensed vaccines are currently available to prevent or contribute to the prevention and control of twenty-five infections

The efficacy or performance of the vaccine is dependent on a number of factors:

  • the disease itself (for some diseases vaccination performs better than for others)
  • the strain of vaccine (some vaccines are specific to, or at least most effective against, particular strains of the disease)
  • whether the vaccination schedule has been properly observed.
  • idiosyncratic response to vaccination; some individuals are "non-responders" to certain vaccines, meaning that they do not generate antibodies even after being vaccinated correctly.
  • assorted factors such as ethnicity, age, or genetic predisposition.

If a vaccinated individual does develop the disease vaccinated against, the disease is likely to be less virulent than in unvaccinated individual.

About the Flu

Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system - your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza, commonly called the flu, is not the same as the stomach "flu" viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:

  • Young children
  • Adults older than 65
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who have chronic illnesses

Your best defense against influenza is to receive an annual vaccination.

Symptoms

Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and often don't need to see a doctor. If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away. Taking antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours after you first notice symptoms may reduce the length of your illness and help prevent more-serious problems.

Causes

Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object - such as a telephone or computer keyboard - and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth.

People with the virus are likely contagious from the day before symptoms first appear until five to 10 days after symptoms begin. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a slightly longer time.

Influenza viruses are constantly changing, with new strains appearing regularly. If you've had influenza in the past, your body has already made antibodies to fight that particular strain of the virus. If future influenza viruses are similar to those you've encountered before, either by having the disease or by vaccination, those antibodies may prevent infection or lessen its severity.

But antibodies against flu viruses you've encountered in the past can't protect you from new influenza subtypes that are very different immunologically from what you had before. A number of virus subtypes have appeared in humans since the global epidemic (pandemic) of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people.

Complications

Although you may feel miserable while you have it, the flu usually goes away with no lasting effects. But high-risk children and adults may develop complications such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma flare-ups
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Pneumonia is the most serious complication. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you do come down with the flu, these measures may help ease your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration. Drink enough liquid so that your urine is clear or pale yellow.
  • Rest. Get more sleep to help your immune system fight infection.
  • Consider pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever to combat the achiness associated with influenza. Don't give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare, but potentially fatal disease.
  • Take VitaminC, D, Selenium and Zinc to boost your immunity.

Prevention

The flu vaccination can be given to anyone over the age of 6 months.

Each year's seasonal flu vaccine contains protection from the three or four influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during that year's flu season.

Controlling the spread of infection

The influenza vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, so it's also important to take measures to reduce the spread of infection:

Wash your hands. Thorough and frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren't readily available.

Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.

Avoid crowds. Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate - in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection. And, if you're sick, stay home so that you don't infect others.

smile
      created by
logo-white