What are the benefits of the flu vaccine?

What are the benefits of the flu vaccine?

Every year, the flu infects approximately 10 to 30% of Europeans and causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalisations (1). Even healthy people can catch the virus (2). And while older people, younger children and those with chronic conditions suffer the most, everyone is at risk of developing serious complications (1).

The flu vaccine is available to help protect people from the flu (2). Read on to learn about the benefits of getting a flu shot.

  1. Prevents the flu: Flu vaccines are safe, effective and the most effective way of preventing the flu (3)(4). Among healthy adults, the flu vaccine provides protection, even when circulating viruses do not exactly match the vaccine viruses (4). However, among the elderly, flu vaccination may be less effective in preventing illness but reduces the severity of disease and incidence of complications and deaths (4).
  2. Reduces flu symptoms: Several flu viruses are circulating all the time, which is why people may still get the flu despite being vaccinated (2) since the vaccine is specific to particular strains of the flu (2). But if you do get sick with the flu, your symptoms may be milder if you’ve had your flu vaccine (5).
  3. Lowers risk of complications: Among the elderly, flu vaccination may be less effective in preventing illness but reduces the severity of disease and incidence of complications and severe illness (4).
  4. Promotes healthy ageing: In older adults, being vaccinated against the flu could prevent functional decline and reduce the incidence of frailty (6).
  5. Protects the community: Vaccination also provides indirect protection (7) for people with vulnerable immune systems. Being vaccinated not only improves direct protection from the flu (2) but may also reduce overall flu transmission (7) and help to stop the virus from affecting people with vulnerable immune systems (2).
  6. Reduces absence: Flu epidemics are also an important cause of many bouts of short-lived but debilitating illness leading to school and work absence. Hence many people choose to get vaccinated, and some also have their children vaccinated too (7).

Complications from the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections to worsening of chronic medical conditions and even septicemia (8). Adverse events following flu vaccination are far less common, generally localised and last no more than a couple of days (8). The benefits of vaccination substantially outweigh any risks (8). Have you had your flu shot?


References
(1) https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/facts
(2) https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/influenza-are-we-ready/5-myths-about-the-flu-vaccine
(3) https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/influenza/vaccination
(4) https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)
(5) https://www.healthline.com/health/flu-shot-pros-and-cons#benefits
(6) https://www.vaccinestoday.eu/stories/bonus-benefits-flu-vaccine-does-more-than-protect-against-influenza/
(7) https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/prevention-and-control/vaccines/vaccination-strategies
(8) https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/prevention-and-control/vaccine-safety

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