Flu vaccination less effective: Is it worth a shot?

Kamille De Guzman,
Staff Writer

The flu epidemic has created a massive influx in hospitalizations and deaths this year compared to previous years. As of mid-December, at least 106 people have died in the United States and 27 people younger than 65 have died in California alone, according to the California Department of Public Health. In addition, higher than average flu-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits have become relevant even through treatment of the flu shot.

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, “Flu viruses are always changing and each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four viruses that are likely to cause disease in the upcoming flu season.”

However, Susan Jacobsen, an M.D of the Fremont Kaiser Permanente Infection Control Center, stated, “Usually the flu vaccine gets updated every year but this has been the first in the last four years that it just became up to date.”

Jacobsen explained that the general influx of flu related hospitalizations were people that received the flu shot every year which in turn, made them susceptible to the virus. She also suggests the lack of government funding to health care as a result to the steady process of flu vaccinations.  

The contagious disease caused by influenza viruses can also lead to other infections like pneumonia, minor blood infections and chronic heart problems.

Cal State East Bay student and health-science major, Andrew Balaoro, explained, “The flu compromises with the body’s immune system which makes the individual more susceptible for other known and unknown infections. Today, people don’t often like getting yearly check-ups. This limits the individual to obtain the flu shot, which puts themselves and others around them at high risk.”

Nurse Erica Aguirre from the Fremont Kaiser Permanente, conveyed that the flu is comparable to the West Nile Virus in that mosquitoes can ultimately be immunized by the repellant made to kill them. “If the repellant is sprayed often or long enough, mosquitoes come to adapt what is in the air, therefore it is very possible that they become immune to it,” said Aguirre.

The flu vaccine protects you from influenza but not from colds or other infections. Majority of people receive the flu shot even before flu season, which is in early October or November.

Flu vaccinations are meant to help your body fight off the flu virus. With the shot, inactivated flu vaccines are injected into your body. “The vaccination prompts the body to make antibodies to fight these flu strains. If you’re exposed to the same strains later in the flu season, the antibodies will fight off the virus,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny nose and muscle aches. Children may have an upset stomach and vomit but adults usually don’t. To prevent yourself from infecting others with the flu you can: wash your hands often, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth and avoid people who might have respiratory infections.

If you are currently sick, drink plenty of fluids, such as water, juice and soup. Stay at home because this helps prevent the spread of germs to others. One should take over-the-counter medication to relieve symptoms and ask your healthcare provider for medication.

Even if you believe the flu shot to be ineffective, doctors still recommend to take the flu shot. In addition, the CDC strongly suggests that anyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot, since it helps reduce the likeliness of catching the flu. If you do get sick, it can also lessen the severity of the symptoms.