Influenza: The Silent Killer

Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles, is something that affects people all over the world. However, the flu kills between 12,000 and 49,000 people every season. But are these numbers enough to prove that you need the dreaded shot?

What is influenza?

Let’s start with the basics here. Influenza, or the flu, is defined by the dictionary as “a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, and often occurring in epidemics.” Some common symptoms include dehydration, chills, fever, congestion, dizziness, and sore throat. Symptoms are usually short term (days to weeks), but the disease is easily spread.

Who is at risk?

Anyone, really. However, certain groups of people are at a greater risk. Pregnant women, young children and anyone over the age of 65 are more susceptible to the flu and might experience worse symptoms. People who live in rural, undeveloped areas who don’t have the means to be treated for the flu also stand at a greater risk.  

Can people die from influenza?

In short, yes. A complication that leads to death because of the flu occurs in the lungs. The bacteria can make it hard for the lungs to take in air, which leads to complications with breathing. Between August 2017 and January 2018, there were about 52 deaths related to the flu on Connecticut.

The flu shot

According to the CDC, “Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.” Basically, the flu shot is like a body of armor that helps protect you and your immune system from influenza. However, it is still possible to get influenza after the flu shot. For one, the vaccine is not 100% effective. Also, the vaccine may not be effective in fighting the flu viruses actually circulating where you live.

Is it normal to get sick after getting the flu shot?

Most definitely. A day or two after getting the vaccine, you may experience fatigue and a low-grade fever. But no need to worry! This is just the immune system accepting the vaccine. It should be noted that these possible symptoms are much less severe than the ones that come from the flu itself.

Even with medical technology improving every year, there isn’t a 100% effective way to rid your body from influenza. However, there are still ways to lessen the chance of getting the bacterial infection.


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