The flu vaccination campaign begins: do you know when it is appropriate to get it and when not? We discover its main contraindications and why there is a different vaccine every year.
Believe it or not, the truth is that it is extremely common to confuse flu with a cold, although the reality is that if we look at its symptoms, the differentiation would be more than evident. Why? Mainly because of something very simple: the symptoms of the flu tend to be much more severe than those caused by a cold or a simple flu.
In fact, the most common is that flu causes a high fever (generally between 38 to 40º) which tends to appear suddenly. The same goes for other related symptoms, such as fatigue and malaise, lack of energy, and muscle pain.
On the other hand, these symptoms are accompanied by others just as common in the cold, such as a sore throat, nasal congestion and sneezing. However, these last symptoms are much more common and severe in the flu or cold.
It basically consists of an acute infectious disease that affects the respiratory tract, which is caused by a total of three types of viruses (A, B and C), the most serious being varieties A and B as they are the cause of epidemics. That occur every year (especially variant A), while variant B is usually more localized.
When does the vaccination campaign start?
Every year, each Autonomous Community launches the seasonal flu vaccination campaign, which is especially aimed at both population groups at risk and the elderly.
For this reason, although each year the dates tend to vary, the most common is that the campaign begins in the month of October and ends in the month of January. However, these dates could vary depending on certain epidemiological needs.
Why is there a different flu vaccine each year?
We must take into account that the virus that causes the flu has a high capacity to undergo variations in its surface antigens, which consist of proteins where the virus’s ability to infect resides, so that against them our body produces antibodies that protect us. .
For this reason, given that these variations imply the appearance of new flu viruses against which humans have no protection, the vaccine must be updated every year, since flu viruses actually vary from year to year. And, therefore, the vaccine is also annual.
Who should get vaccinated against the flu?
Vaccination is especially recommended for people who are at high risk of complications from the disease. On the other hand, it is also recommended for people who are in contact with these high-risk groups, since there is a greater risk of transmitting it to them.
According to the National Public Health Commission, we can summarize the risk groups below:
- People aged 65 or over, especially those who live in closed institutions (for example, in hospitals, nursing homes and nursing homes).
- People under 65 years of age at high risk of complications: children over 6 months and adults with chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases (including asthma, cystic fibrosis or bronchi-pulmonary dysplasia), metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus), morbid obesity, kidney failure , splenii, anemia, hemoglobinopathies, chronic liver disease, immunosuppression, dementia, Down syndrome or serious neuromuscular diseases.
- Other groups to which it is recommended: people who work in essential public services, as well as those who are in contact with birds with confirmed or suspected avian influenza virus infection.
Of course, vaccination against influenza is not recommended at all for children under 6 months, people with an allergy to eggs or with hypersensitivity to egg proteins, as well as those suffering from an acute illness with high fever (who should wait until the condition subsides).
Which people cannot be vaccinated?
Although vaccination against influenza is recommended, there are also certain groups in which the vaccine cannot be administered:
- Babies under 6 months.
- People allergic to: egg, chicken protein or other components of the vaccine.
- If the person has a fever.
- If the person suffers from an acute infection.
What is the flu vaccine made of?
The influenza vaccine is made up of three strains, specifically two types A and one type B, which represent the viruses that would most likely circulate throughout the following winter.
Most of these vaccines are made from viruses grown in embrocated chicken eggs, which are then inactivated and finally fractionated.
Can I get the flu despite having been vaccinated?
Although it is true that many of the adults who are vaccinated develop high titers of antibodies after a dose of the vaccine, it is necessary to know that these antibodies are only protective against influenza viruses similar to those included in the vaccine.
Therefore, there is a risk of contagion even though the person has been previously vaccinated.