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What Are the Pros and Cons of Influenza Vaccination?

Pregnant women who have not received a flu shot in the past year should consult their physician.
Influenza vaccination is encouraged for young children since they are more at risk for having serious complications from an influenza infection.
A beaker of polysorbate 80, which is included in some flu vaccines.
A small syringe and vial of medicine.
Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 August 2014
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Influenza vaccination is a relatively new form of viral protection that still remains a mystery to many. Many doctors recommend that people get either the injected or nasal spray flu vaccine every year to cut down chances of influenza infection. For those concerned about benefits versus potential risks, it is important to understand some of the pros and cons of influenza vaccination.

The biggest factor in favor of getting yearly influenza vaccination is that it cuts down the chances of getting sick. While this may simply save a few days inconvenience for the majority of people, it may be a literal lifesaver in some cases. People who have a high risk of developing complications due to influenza infection are often urged by doctors to get a yearly vaccine. People considered most at risk of complications include young children, the elderly, those with suppressed immune systems, those who work in health care facilities, and pregnant women.

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Another important positive factor caused by influenza vaccination is the reduction of a chance for an epidemic. Flu is easily passed from one person to another through infected secretions like phlegm and saliva. An infected person sneezing on a public bus can easily transfer the virus to others in the immediate vicinity, not to mention leaving traces of the virus behind for the next person who takes the seat. When the virus is passed through a significant population, it is considered an epidemic. By immunizing as much of the population as possible, doctors can help cut down on the risks of an epidemic developing by making immunized people far less likely to catch or spread the infection.

There are some downsides to influenza that should be considered before getting the treatment. First, some people do experience side effects that include aches, fever, and fatigue. These side effects are often blamed for people believing that getting the shot has given them the flu, but are in fact the result of a viral infection. It may be a good idea to plan getting influenza vaccination for a time period when rest is possible.

Not all people can get the flu shot or immunizing nasal spray. Children under six months are not allowed to get the immunization, and those who are already sick with a fever need to wait until they recover before receiving the vaccine. Some people experience a significant and even dangerous allergic reaction, particularly those that have allergies to chicken eggs. In rare cases, the vaccine is believed to have caused an immunological illness known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which can cause permanent nerve damage and even death. People that are diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome after receiving a vaccination are usually advised not to get yearly immunization.

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