How Long Does Immunity Last
With some viral illnesses, once you have been infected with it or have been vaccinated against it, youre immune for life.
With the flu, however, immunity doesnt last that long.
A study published in March 2017 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases confirmed that immunity declines over the months following vaccination or infection.
Getting vaccinated every year is important to lower your likelihood of getting the flu. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity to the flu, and experts recommend getting vaccinated before flu season is in full swing to ensure adequate protection.
I think part of the problem with getting people vaccinated is people dont understand how serious can be, says Dr. Troisi. They confuse it with the common cold. But if you actually have the flu, you can get very sick.
Tis The Season For The Cold And Flu
Find out when cold and flu season begins, peaks, and ends.
Unless you live in a bubble, chances are you will be exposed to the cold and flu virus. While these contagious viruses can be found year-round in the United States, they are most common during the fall and winter. Cold and flu activity often begins to increase in October.1 You can monitor activity in your area with the Theraflu Cold and Flu Tracker.
Why Is It So Important To Get A Flu Shot
Many people think of the flu as a mild illness. Its common for people to say a cough or sneeze is just the flu.
However, the flu can actually be a very serious illness. People in high-risk groups can experience serious flu symptoms that can lead to hospitalization and even death. High-risk groups include:
- young children
- people with diabetes
- people with conditions that impact their immune systems
The flu spreads in respiratory droplets from person to person. Even if you have a mild case, you can pass the flu virus to others. This could include people in high-risk groups.
Flu shots are the best way to prevent the flu and keep you from passing the flu to others. Research has shown that flu shots reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization, and death.
When you think about the flu, you probably think of a single condition, but there are actually different influenza viruses that can lead to the flu. Each year, researchers determine which strains of the flu-causing viruses are likely to be the most common during the upcoming flu season. This research is used to create the flu vaccine for that season. Thats one reason its so important to get a flu shot every year.
Flu viruses change all the time, so last years shot might not protect you from this years viruses. Plus, your immune systems defenses from the flu shot fade with time, so getting an annual shot is a great way to stay protected.
Also Check: Flu Shot Safe For Pregnancy
What Are The Side Effects Of The Flu Vaccine
Soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as headache, fever, nausea, muscle aches and fatigue can occur with the shot. The nasal spray vaccine in kids can cause runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, low-grade fever and sore throat. Side effects of the nasal spray for adults may include runny nose, headache and cough.
Rarely, life-threatening allergic reactions can occur. Symptoms, which usually arise within a few hours after vaccination, may include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, rapid heartbeat or dizziness.
Similarities Between The Symptoms Of The Flu And Covid
The flu and COVID-19 are different viruses. They’re very contagious and have similar symptoms. This can make it hard to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 when symptoms appear.
If you start to develop symptoms, follow the same precautions taken for COVID-19.
This year is more important than ever for everyone 6 months and older to get the flu shot. This will help prevent the flu and flu-related complications. Preventing the flu will also help reduce stress on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also Check: Can You Take The Flu Shot Twice
Can You Still Get The Flu Out Of Season Though
In a word, yesthe flu can technically circulate all year long, meaning you can get the flu anytime, says Dr. Bhuyan. Its just less like to be transmitted to large numbers of people during the off-season. Additionally, when its summer in the Northern Hemisphere, its winter in the Southern Hemisphere so if you travel to a place like Australia during their winter, you can definitely pick up the flu.
Cases of the flu begin to pick up around October, peak in December through February, and can last until May.
However, the virus isnt as strong during the warmer seasons, and people arent as susceptible, so its generally pretty rare, adds LaTasha Perkins, MD, a family physician in Washington D.C.
Why Does Flu Spike During Colder Months
Of course, this is all relative , but, generally speaking, flu just likes the conditions of winter a little more. “The flu is a contagious respiratory illness, and the influenza virus lives longer in colder, drier air,” says Dr. Taege.
People are also much more likely to congregate indoors during the winter months and that closer contact can help the virus spread, says Dr. Taege. But close quarters during other parts of the year can heighten flu risk too, like when lots of people gather on cruise ships for vacations, Richard R. Clark, MD, FAAFP, family medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine Grayslake Outpatient Facility tells Health.
Recommended Reading: How Bad Is The Flu
How Long The Flu And Covid
Typically, flu symptoms stick around for four or five days maybe even up to seven days, Dr. Englund says, while the CDC reports that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious for about 10 days after symptom onset.
Some people continue to experience the effects of COVID-19 even after theyve stopped being contagious. Long-haulers, as theyre called, are those who still experience some sort of symptom 28 days or later after they were first infected.
Most people with either illness can recover at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medicines for fever or body aches, Dr. Englund says. But in some cases, they can both result in complications like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissue. These complications are more likely to affect older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.
Additional complications associated with COVID-19 include blood clots and multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
If you contract either virus, its important to monitor your symptoms and stay in touch with your doctor.
How Long Do Influenza Symptoms Last
In this regard, which flu is worse A or B?
influenza Binfluenzainfluenza B
Also, how can I recover from flu faster?
Here are 12 tips to help you recover more quickly.
What flu is going around 2020?
What are the stages of flu?
A bout of the flu typically follows this pattern:
- Days 13: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.
- Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease.
- Day 8: Symptoms decrease.
Also Check: When Do I Need A Flu Shot
Can The Flu Shot Prevent Covid
It is not designed to do so, and we have no solid evidence that it does. But some recent, yet preliminary and limited, studies suggest that it could. One study published on a preprint server in September that has not yet been peer reviewed found that of nearly 18,000 employees at a Dutch hospital, those who received a previous flu vaccine were 37 to 49 percent less likely to get sick with Covid-19 during the first and second coronavirus waves, respectively,than those who didnt get the flu shot.
Researchers have been speculating that the flu vaccine might spark a broad immune response that could help prevent other infections, including Covid-19. And while there is growing interest in this theory, and other studies have found similar associations, its hard to know whether these effects are causal or just coincidental, Dr. Fradin said.
The best way to prevent Covid-19,she added,is to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
What Else Can I Do To Protect Myself From The Flu
Dr. Gandhi stressed that Covid-19 precautions hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing and isolating yourself when sick also help prevent the spread of flu. I would encourage people to go into this fall and winter season trying to also be adherent to all of those preventive health measures, she said.
Melinda Wenner Moyer is a science journalist.
Recommended Reading: Cvs Flu Shot Gift Card
Vaccine Supply And Distribution
How much influenza vaccine is projected to be available for the 2021-2022 influenza season?
Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. Vaccine manufacturers have projected that they will supply the United States with as many as 188 million to 200 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2021-2022 season. These projections may change as the season progresses. All flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 season will be quadrivalent . Most will be thimerosal-free or thimerosal-reduced vaccine and about 18% of flu vaccines will be egg-free.
Where can I find information about vaccine supply?
Special Consideration Regarding Egg Allergy
People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are available: quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
How Long Will The Flu Last This 2020
During flu season, health care providers tend to see an increase of patients across primary care doctors offices, ERs, and hospitals, says Dr. Bhuyan. But thanks to the added element of COVID-19, its difficult to say.
We often look to other countries in order to predict our own flu season in the U.S. COVID-19 has added a layer of complexity to the impending flu season this year, says Dr. Bhuyan. However, the measures we’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are also things that can decrease transmission of the flu, she notes.
According to Dr. Bhuyan, countries such as Chile, South Africa, and Australia are already seeing this play out. Australia has even seen a decrease in ICU capacity than prior flu seasons, which public health experts credit to mask wearing.
However, because COVID-19 cases are continuing in the U.S., its harder to predict the pattern of flu season, she says. Additionally, because the flu and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms, this is going to present some challenges in distinguishing the two viruses.
Read Also: Example Of Religious Exemption For Flu Vaccinations
What To Expect For The 2021
This time of the year is often associated with the holidays, but there is another season that has many in the medical professional worried and thats flu season. The 2021-2022 flu season is expected to be especially active because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flu virus is most active during the fall and winter months. Flu season usually begins in October and peaks between December and February . Last years flu season was very mild, and because of that cases of the flu are expected to be higher this year, especially as COVID-prevention measures like hand washing, social distancing and masking are relaxed across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone over the age of six months get a flu shot every year, unless recommended otherwise by a medical professional. People at especially high risk for the flu include:
- Adults 65 years and older
- Children under the age of two
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes or other long-term facilities
- People with pre-existing conditions
In addition to the flu vaccine, other ways to reduce the risk for the flu are frequent handwashing, covering your mouth when coughing, and avoiding people who are sick. Many of the same ways used to limit the spread of COVID.
What Is The Flu
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness thats caused by the influenza virus. There are two main types of influenza virus: type A and type B. These main types are further subdivided into multiple subtypes and strains, including the well-known H1N1 strain. The effect each of these strains may have on you depends on your age and overall health.
If you have the flu, symptoms may include:
In more extreme cases, you may experience vomiting and diarrhea. Although symptoms tend to emerge suddenly, you may find yourself experiencing a milder version in the early stages of the virus. Its also important to note that you may be a carrier for the virus even if you arent experiencing any symptoms yourself.
You May Like: Can You Give High Dose Flu To Under 65
Preventing A Child From Getting The Flu
The most effective way to prevent a child from getting the flu is by administering a flu vaccination.
- These vaccinations cause antibodies to develop within the patients body, protecting the individual against the influenza virus.
- While seasonal flu vaccination is not a 100 percent certain way to eliminate the flu, it has been shown to significantly improve the odds of a person avoiding a flu infection.
- But a flu vaccination is not the only option parents have to fight the flu.
Parents can also incorporate better eating habits and hygiene into their childrens routines to help them persevere through the flu season.
First Let’s Cover Some Flu Shot Basics
The flu shot is a seasonal vaccine that helps protect against the three or four influenza viruses that researchers predict will be the most common during the upcoming flu season, per the CDC.
- A quadrivalent flu shot that targets four strains of the flu
FWIW: Most flu vaccines in the U.S. are quadrivalent vaccines. There are variations within those types of vaccines, including flu shots that are egg-free. There is also a nasal flu vaccine, called FluMist, thats given through a mist sprayed up your nosebut its not an actual shot.
Don’t Miss: Are Flu Vaccines Mandatory For Nurses
What Are Common Symptoms Of The Flu
They usually come more suddenly than cold symptoms. They include fever, feeling feverish, the chills, and having a cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache, and fatigue. Less common are vomiting and diarrhea. Children are more likely to have vomiting and diarrhea than adults are.
Not everyone with the flu has a fever.
Is The Flu Vaccine Safe
Yes. Flu vaccines have been used for over 50 years and have been safely given to hundreds of millions of people, including pregnant people. Flu vaccines, like all vaccines used in the U.S., are carefully monitored for safety through the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems .
Find answers to more questions about vaccine safety.
You May Like: Guillain Barre After Flu Shot
How Can I Protect Myself From The Flu
Avoid people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.
Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms to avoid getting others sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth.
Regularly clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces.
All these measures will help, but getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from influenza illness and complications. The flu vaccine is safe and effective for most people. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting the flu vaccine before the flu season begins.
When To See A Doctor
While those who get the flu typically recover after about a week, you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider if youre experiencing flu symptoms and are at risk of complications.
High risk adult populations include:
- Adults older than age 65
- People who live in nursing homes
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who have chronic illnesses
- People with a BMI greater than 40
- Infants and young children
- Ribs pulling in with every breath
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
Read Also: How Much Is A Flu Shot At Walgreens With Medicare
Is Flu Season A Different Time Of The Year In Other Parts Of The World
Although the flu virus can be spread at any time, cases spike when temperature and humidity drop. Thats why flu seasons around the world are associated with the colder temperatures.
While in Canada and most of Europe, temperatures generally fall at about the same time as in the United States, this isnt the case everywhere. For example, in countries in the southern hemisphere, such as Australia, Thailand, and South Africa, flu season generally runs from April to October.
Just like in the United States, the exact dates of flu seasons around the world change each year.
How Can You Treat The Flu
For most people, the flu is mild enough that it does not require medical treatment. The flu will typically run its course within a week. However, sometimes the flu can make people very sick, especially if they are a high-risk population, such as very young children or the elderly. A doctor can prescribe you antiviral drugs to help you recover more quickly. They can also lessen the severity of your symptoms. Antiviral drugs are most effective when they are taken within two days of falling ill.
You May Like: Does Lysol Kill Flu Virus