Why Do I Need A Flu Vaccine Shot?

Michelle Gilmore, RN
Director of Nursing
Abbyshire Place Skilled Nursing & Rehab

flu vaccineInfluenza (aka “the flu”) is an infectious illness that can spread from person to person.  Transmission of influenza can occur via saliva, nasal secretions, feces, and blood.  These exposures can be from direct contact from an infected person or from contacting a contaminated surface.  A surface exposed by an infected individual can be contaminated and expose/transmit to a healthy person up to 24 to 48 hours after being contaminated.

Influenza is categorized in to four types of category:  Flu A, Flu B, Flu C, and Flu D.  Flu A and B noted to be the most common and resulting in more hospitalizations and deaths annually.  As influenza differs in category, it also in unrelated antigenically.  This means that if a person develops or contracts influenza of one type they will not gain immunity to other types of influenza.  This feature of influenza dictates the need for annual influenza vaccinations.  The goal in controlling the spread, is to limit the number of transmissions by vaccination.  It is recommended that all healthy individuals receive annual vaccination against influenza, unless contraindicated.

Influenza virus is constantly changing via mutation and requires persistent study and update to the influenza vaccination.  It takes nearly eight months to develop the vaccination for influenza.  Once developed the immunization must be given promptly as the proteins in compound break down over time causing the immunization to become non-effective.

Vaccines people commonly receive annually contain up to four different influenza virus strains in total; two A virus and two B virus strain in each immunization.  These strains of virus are developed from the previous year influenza strain as a guideline for development for the next calendar year.  With the rising healthcare cost of hospital and emergency treatment in consideration of the toll that influenza can inflict on an infected individual, immunization to influenza is the most efficient, cost effective intervention taken against combating the virus.

The Center for Disease Control conducts studies every year to determine the effectiveness of the vaccination to protect against the flu.  Recent post study indicated an overall decrease of influenza cases by 40-60% of population.  The benefits of receiving the influenza vaccination include:

  • Prevents or lowers flu related illness annually
  • Decreases the risk of an individual needing to be seen by physicians
  • Prevents or lowers inpatient hospitalizations
  • Lowers the risk of cardiovascular events due to illness of contraction of the flu
  • Protects women and child during and after pregnancy

It has been especially indicated for people age 65 and older to receive vaccination due to be higher risk of severe illness due to having compromised immune systems due to aging.  These individuals have a higher risk of developing more severe illness including death.  By taking vaccination those age 65 years and older greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of severe illness, hospitalization, and death related to influenza.

The vaccination for influenza is safe, cost efficient, and the best option in preventing the spread and illness of influenza.  Unfortunately there is no way to eliminate the flu totally.  Avoiding a sick individual is encouraged.  Individuals are also encouraged to cover their cough/sneeze and to wash their hands often to limit the risk of transmission due to contact.

Abbyshire strongly encourages all residents and staff to receive the influenza vaccine, although they do have the right to decline. Informational literature is given to residents, their responsible parties and to staff so they are well informed of details regarding the vaccine.  The vaccine is being offered at this time and will continue to be offered/encouraged throughout the recommended time frame of influenza season.   Help decrease the spread and receive your vaccine today.