The text is presented for informational purposes only. We urge you not to self-medicate. When the first symptoms appear, consult a doctor. Recommended reading: " Why not self-medicate?". Influenza vaccination is the introduction of a biologically active drug into the human body for prophylactic purposes, which is able to form short-term immunity to the body's ability to fall under the influence of the influenza virus. Vaccination is considered the most effective preventive measure against this disease. Influenza itself is much more dangerous than many people think, since this disease can cause severe consequences, complications and death. Medical science is constantly improving methods for preventing this disease, but to date, scientists have not yet found anything better than vaccination.
Types of vaccines
There are a large number of vaccines against the influenza virus in modern pharmacology. All of them differ in their ability to influence the virus to prevent the disease caused by different strains of the virus, the softness of the impact on the body. For the correct choice of the flu vaccine, it is best to consult a doctor who will help determine for a particular person which vaccine in his case will be most effective and cause the least side effects.
All vaccines against the influenza virus help to form an immune defense in the body. The choice should be made based on whether the person has an allergic reaction to hen's egg protein, which is part of many vaccines, or to specific components of the drug.
By type, vaccines are live, that is, containing a dose of live attenuated virus, whole-virion based on chicken protein, split (protein-free) and subunit. The most popular live vaccine is the Russian drug "Live influenza allantoic vaccine" for intranasal administration, which helps protect against 3 strains of the virus at the same time. Such a vaccine can only be administered to the body after the age of 3 years. The whole-virion Russian vaccine "Grippovac" can be used only from the age of seven and only in cases where the patient, after preliminary tests, has not been shown to be allergic to chicken protein or aminoglycosides. When allergic reactions to chicken egg protein are detected, patients are vaccinated using split split vaccines, such as the French Vaxigrip, the German Begrivac or the English Fluarix, which do not use egg whites. The most well-known subunit vaccines include Dutch (Influvac) and Russian (Grippol, Grippol Plus) preparations.
The vaccine is poorly tolerated by the human body only if the conditions of this procedure were violated during the administration of the drug, or after the vaccination the patient did not comply with certain doctor's prescriptions. If all the conditions for immunization are met, then any vaccine is tolerated quite easily.
Most often, vaccination against influenza takes place in a polyclinic, however, vaccination can be done in any other equipped institution if the patient wishes, for example, in the medical office of an enterprise, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, private medical clinics.
If the patient is at risk for the possibility of influenza, vaccination should be scheduled and administered in advance. On the eve of the start of the cold season (the potential season for the spread of the influenza virus - in late November - early December), such patients are invited to polyclinics, they are examined by a doctor, and then, if there are no health problems at the time of the examination, vaccination is performed.
If a person is not included in the risk group, but wants to independently protect himself from influenza by vaccination, he needs to purchase any desired vaccine and go to any medical institution where he will be examined by a specialist, and then issued referral for vaccination or to be vaccinated with a drug available for seasonal prophylaxis.
Influenza vaccine is administered subcutaneously or intramuscularly into the deltoid region. In the case of subcutaneous administration of the vaccine, the drug is injected into the area under the scapula or into the shoulder. Some live vaccines can be administered intranasally by specialists.
It is important to remember that the risk category for influenza includes all children without exception.
However, influenza vaccination of children has its own characteristics:
- influenza vaccine can be administered to young children no earlier than six months of age;
- virtually all flu shots for young children are given twice;
- In children, the vaccine is given only in the femoral area.
Such features are explained by the presence of maternal immunity in a child up to 6 months, the need for revaccination a month later to strengthen immunity. The femoral zone is optimal for anti-influenza vaccination in children due to the fact that if the body reacts to the administered drug in this area, it is easiest to carry out resuscitation measures (apply a tourniquet).
At the age when children attend kindergarten, they especially need a flu shot, because they do not yet have immunity from many diseases, and the large number of children contributes to the spread of a large number of infections. In the case of influenza, in this state of affairs, an outbreak of an epidemic of the disease is possible. The most ideal situation is when all members of the children's team are vaccinated against the flu. Together with them, all adults who are in constant contact with children - parents, brothers and sisters, educators - should also be vaccinated. Before vaccinating a child for three days, he should have minimal contact with third-party people who can infect him with any infection. Similarly, you need to do the same for three days after vaccination - crowded places during this period of time should be excluded from the environment of the child. The most optimal situation is when the child stays at home for a week after vaccination under the supervision of parents. If these rules are observed, stable specific immunity will be formed.
Contraindications to vaccination
As with any other vaccine, there are several contraindications to influenza vaccination.
Such vaccination is absolutely contraindicated:
- allergy sufferers who are sensitive to chicken protein (applies only to vaccines based on it);
- children under 6 months of age;
- in cases of previous reactions to components of the same drug.
Temporary vaccination is contraindicated for those who are currently suffering from any infection or suffering from an exacerbation of chronic diseases. Only 2-4 weeks after complete recovery is it recommended to consider the possibility of vaccination.
Contraindications for the introduction of the vaccine are not oncopathology, pregnancy, immunodeficiency. Such diagnoses, on the contrary, serve as a reason for mandatory vaccination, since such people are at increased risk for the incidence of influenza and the development of severe complications of this infection.
You should not be vaccinated at the onset of any respiratory disease, since it is usually difficult to clearly identify the onset and find out immediately what kind of disease a person has contracted. For the flu shot, you must recover from the actual infection, wait 14 days, and only then use the vaccine.
Vaccination during pregnancy and lactation
Vaccination is the only method of safe and effective prevention of influenza in pregnant women, and has been performed in different countries for more than 20 years with inactivated split vaccines. This statement is based on a significant reduction in the prevalence, severity, and consequences of influenza in pregnant women, with potential benefits for their infants. According to the WHO, pregnant women are the priority group to be vaccinated against influenza. This provision is based on a significant reduction in the prevalence, severity, and consequences of influenza in pregnant women, with potential benefits for their infants. Most experts agree that during the period of bearing a child, you can be vaccinated against influenza in the second or third trimester, it is better to try not to affect the first trimester.
In the case of a nursing mother, vaccination becomes a very necessary manipulation due to the fact that the body weakened by childbirth is more susceptible to infection with viruses. Even if enough time has passed after childbirth (several months), the immune system usually does not have time to self-repair due to the woman's nervousness and lack of sleep. This can make a breastfeeding mother more susceptible to influenza infection. Having been vaccinated, a woman will not only protect herself, but also protect her child from the virus, through the intake of developed antibodies from mother's breast milk.
But the most desirable and effective is vaccination against influenza when planning a pregnancy. During this period, the woman's body is at the peak of its health, the immune system is not weakened in any way and is able to effectively form the necessary antibodies to any virus. Influenza is important to avoid during pregnancy, as its consequences can be very negative for the child, leading to intrauterine infection and even miscarriage.
A high-quality and timely vaccination can save the health, and even life, of a mother and unborn baby, so experts recommend thinking about vaccination already when a woman is just starting to plan a pregnancy.
How the vaccine works
The influenza vaccine does not work to kill the virus that already exists in the body. Vaccination is designed to mobilize protective immune functions, forming antibodies even before encountering the most common infectious disease.
Influenza vaccine formulations can vary greatly due to the fact that their base can be either live or inactivated. Inactivated samples are artificially removed by culturing the virus in a chicken embryo, then purifying it of impurities and neutralizing it using ultraviolet rays or formaldehyde. The viruses used in vaccines are inactivated and do not cause influenza. However, mild side effects may occur, including a local reaction at the injection site. Live vaccines are whole-virion vaccines with viral virions, split protein-free, subunit with two viral proteins involved in the formation of an immune response to the virus in the body.
The timing of influenza vaccine administration should be chosen based on WHO forecasts for the upcoming epidemic, as well as on the instructions for a specific vaccine, which clearly states the time for the development of the body's immune response. As a rule, this period is from 10 to 30 days.
The duration of the effect of the vaccine also depends on the specific drug. Most often, antibodies to influenza are produced after vaccination for up to 6 months. However, in modern pharmacology, there are drugs that protect health for 9-12 months.
Influenza vaccination, under certain conditions, is the most effective method of protection against the disease. Experts refer to such conditions as the maximum vaccination coverage of the population of all ages, the possibility of isolating the sick from other members of the family or team, protection from contacts at the time of the introduction of the vaccine, when many people come to the clinic and encounter already sick people before vaccination, high awareness of influenza vaccination.
After using a subunit or split vaccine, a patient may experience a local reaction at the injection site for some time. It is completely normal and does not require medical attention, as it goes away on its own. Such discomfort, as a rule, disappears in 2 days.
Influenza vaccines have a very low reactogenicity, which means that they rarely lead to various complications.
The individual characteristics of each human organism can sometimes lead to such post-vaccination reactions as:
- allergy to the components of the drug;
- local reaction - infiltration at the injection site;
- the occurrence of mild catarrhal manifestations in the form of subfebrile temperature, sore throat and other symptoms that disappear on their own within 2 days, and occur only after the use of live vaccines.
In general, the presence of side effects is, in most cases, a normal reaction of the body to an antigen, reflecting the process of developing immunity.
What is incompatible with vaccination
It is widely believed that after vaccination one should not take water procedures - a bath, a shower and somehow wet the injection site. This is not entirely true - you can wash yourself, but you can’t swim in the sea, river, lake or pool, where there is a risk of encountering infections, for the first couple of days after the manipulation. In home bathing procedures, it is better to give preference to a light shower, without rubbing with a sponge and a long stay in hot water in order to protect the injection site from inflammation.
Many people are also interested in the possibility of drinking alcohol during the period when the vaccine is administered and immunity against infection begins to develop. Doctors are categorical in their opinion - after vaccination, one should refrain from drinking alcohol for at least three days. At best, the vaccine will be ineffective. At worst, it will cause disease. You should also give up not only alcohol, but also heavy fatty, fried foods, as well as known natural allergens - citrus fruits and chocolate, so that nothing prevents the body from developing the necessary antibodies to the influenza virus.
Pros and cons of vaccination
The introduction of influenza vaccine is not a panacea, although it is considered the most effective means of preventing disease. It is better to prevent the reproduction of the virus in the body in advance than to actively deal with the negative consequences that it caused to health later. Having had the flu once, the body receives immunity, which, however, applies only to the seasonal strain of the virus.
Thus, without vaccination, it is almost impossible to protect against the disease.
Vaccination can easily and simply save a person from the need to be treated for influenza symptoms that have arisen. In addition, the infection requires a lot of time losses, which in modern society, not everyone can afford. Regardless of the type or composition of the seasonal flu vaccine, vaccination should be given annually for optimal protection against infection. However, vaccines also have disadvantages. They will have little effect on the situation of morbidity in people with strong immunity, who are not included in the risk zone of the epidemiological situation. True, it is becoming more and more difficult to identify such people for sure. As already mentioned, vaccination is contraindicated for women in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, in the first six months of a baby's life, in cases of allergy to its components.
Be sure to vaccinate children after 6 months, the older generation over the age of 60, patients with chronic diseases of the lungs, kidneys, cardiovascular pathologies, HIV-infected people, diabetics, asthmatics, people with history of circulatory disease. All these categories of citizens, as well as persons who are constantly in direct contact with them, are recommended timely vaccination.
Also among the persons who must be vaccinated are representatives of certain professions - employees of children's educational institutions and kindergartens, teachers of higher educational institutions, public transport drivers, medical workers.
Many are interested in the question of whether it is possible for a vaccinated person to become infected with the flu. The flu shot is undoubtedly effective, but it does not provide 100% protection against the disease. Vaccination with modern influenza vaccines, prepared from appropriate strains and used at the correct dose, protects about 80% of healthy children and adults from influenza. Vaccination is effective in preventing influenza-related complications or reducing their severity. Vaccination of the elderly dramatically reduces influenza mortality.
It should also be taken into account that most of the diseases after vaccination are related to other acute respiratory viral infections, acute respiratory infections and other diseases with similar symptoms, which are not affected by influenza vaccination. These diseases are not as dangerous as the flu, and are treated mainly only symptomatically.
It should be noted that, in contrast to adverse reactions, the incidence of complications after influenza vaccination is extremely low. Any reactions should be examined by specialists. Usually, all manifestations of an individual nature after the procedure go away on their own or are treated with symptomatic agents. With proper storage of the drug and proper vaccination, complications are extremely rare. Therefore, the right choice would be to get vaccinated only in a specialized medical institution.
- World Health Organization. – Flu Vaccination – 7 Useful Facts.
- RBC TV channel. – How to Prepare for the Flu Vaccination During a Pandemic. What is important to know.
- Ministry of Health. Israel. - Influenza shot - questions and answers.