The Flu Vaccine
As a viral infection capable of spreading from one to another, the flu should be taken seriously. It is transmitted through the lung and nasal secretions of the infected person. The medical term assigned to the infection is influenza. Primarily, the respiratory infection starts developing in the lungs.
Few of the symptoms associated with influenza are severe body aches, high fever and malaise. It may also be characterized by chills, sore throat and muscle pains. Sometimes, people mistakenly call other respiratory infections with similar symptoms influenza. So, a diagnosis of whether a respiratory infection is influenza or another should be made by a doctor.
Developing a Vaccine for Flu
Typically, vaccines are developed for the prevention of the seasonal flu. They are of two types: one is an injection containing the strain of the dormant virus and the other is a nasal spray that has the weakened strain of the virus in an active state. Sometimes, these vaccines may also be used to control the common flu. However, these are not capable of providing adequate protection against Swine Flu.
With viruses changing their biological structure periodically, they evolve alongside. This can make a vaccine useless with a year or two, thereby creating a requirement for new vaccines. In keeping with this requirement, scientists consistently develop new vaccines to counter the influenza virus. This is based on their ability to predict the types of viruses that can cause infections. Typically, viruses used for the preparation of flu vaccines are cultured in eggs from hens.
Administering the Flu Vaccine
A flu vaccine is generally effective for the two weeks following its administration. This is the period when it can counter the virus effectively. However, the vaccine can act on the virus only if is of the same strain.
The virus strains keep changing with the seasons. This is why revaccinations are recommended every year. This should be done such that the new strain in the vaccine matches the new active one. Usually, most infections from the influenza virus occur between October and May. So, it is best to get yourself vaccinated from flu during October and November.
The effectiveness of a vaccine for flu is contingent on how well the virus strain in the vaccine and the active one in the population are matched. The vaccine has the ability to prevent the occurrence of influenza in almost 70% to 90% of adults (healthy) below the age of 65 years. It can also be used effectively for preventing pneumonia caused by influenza. Also, it is up to 80% effective in preventing mortality from influenza.