The flu is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract and is highly contagious. It is seasonal. It arrives in our country, typically, from the second half of December, when winter calls for a step, and we say goodbye to autumn.
The flu is sometimes confused with the viral infections responsible for the common cold since they give similar symptoms.
The flu begins abruptly with a high fever, generalized muscle pain, dry cough, headache and neck pain, and general malaise, known and identified as trancazo.
The common cold is usually accompanied by a runny nose and sneezing, with abundant mucus from the nose, and may or may not be accompanied by a fever.
The discomfort is not as intense in the cold. The flu asks for rest, and the infected body needs a bed. On the other hand, the cold can be compatible with the usual activity.
The severity of the flu varies each season and from one person to another. Older people and those with other underlying diseases are the ones who may have more complications.
The flu vaccine
Flu viruses can continually change, so this vaccine must be given every year and prepares us for the virus that will arrive in winter.
The ideal period to get vaccinated is October and November, so the annual vaccination campaign has already begun.
The vaccine is prepared from dead flu viruses, whose antigens stimulate our immune system to make antibodies that will be effective against the live virus that will come into contact with us at the time of the epidemic, thus preventing us from contracting the illness.
Every year the WHO changes the vaccine composition based on the established forecasts. Since the 2009 influenza A epidemic, the influenza vaccine also contains antigens from the H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes of the influenza A virus, in addition to antigens from the influenza B virus, which was the one that used to cause epidemics until then.
Who should get vaccinated against the flu?
As the vaccine prevents the flu, it is essential to administer it to those people in whom this disease could cause complications, even fatal. Active immunization against influenza should be received by:
- Groups at high risk for flu-related complications: All those over 60 years of age.
Residents in senior centers and other closed institutions welcome patients of any age who require continuous care for chronic diseases.
Adults and children with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, including asthma.
Adults and children with Down syndrome, chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus and morbid obesity), renal failure, hemoglobin abnormalities, absent spleen, or immunosuppression (including those caused by HIV infection or medication) who have required periodic medical examinations or hospitalization during the previous year.
Children and adolescents (from 6 months to 18 years) are in long-term treatment with acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) due to the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome after a flu infection.
During pregnancy, in any trimester, if it coincides with the time of the epidemic.
- People who can spread the flu to high-risk individuals: Healthcare personnel in contact with high-risk patients.
Workers at institutions that take in high-risk people (nursing homes, centers for the chronically ill, etc.) have contact with patients or residents.
People who provide home care to high-risk individuals and the partners of high-risk patients.
- Other groups: General population: although the influenza vaccine is not indicated for the entire population, it can be administered to anyone who wishes to minimize the risk of the disease. People who work in public services (firefighters, police, transport, etc.) do not have a higher risk than the general population. Still, in the event of an epidemic, it must be taken into account how the epidemic would affect the essential activities of the community that these public service workers provide.
International travelers: vaccination is recommended for unvaccinated people in risk groups who go to tropical areas at any time of the year or to the southern hemisphere between April to September.
And you, have you already vaccinated against the flu? If you tell me below, we will comment on your experience.
Although it is more than highly recommended ble as an individual exercise of public health protection, each can decide what suits him best, as in other similar clinical situations.