The flu, also called influenza, is a respiratory illness that is highly contagious. It is caused by influenza A or B viruses. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. The flu is commonly seen during the seasons of winter and early spring.
A flu shot is a simple vaccine that protects against catching the flu. Some vaccines are able to protect against more than one flu virus strain. The traditional flu shot is injected into your arm muscle. It’s made from pieces of inactive flu viruses.
A flu shot prepares your body with the antibodies it needs to fight an infection caused by the flu virus when you're exposed to it. Doctors change the vaccine every season in order to introduce the strains they suspect are most likely to appear that year. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. It is recommended to get vaccinated as early as possible, before the flu season really begins.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu shots for ages 6 months and older get immunized against the flu. People who are usually at high risk of getting serious complications from the flu are especially urged to receive the flu shot as a precaution. Recommendations include:
Ask your doctor about getting a flu shot if you've had an allergic reaction to a flu shot in the past or if you are currently ill to avoid complications.
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