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Understanding the Flu Shot and Why It Changes Every Year

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As we approach another flu season, many patients at Primary Care Joliet ask a common question: Why does the flu vaccine change every year? Understanding this aspect of the influenza virus and the vaccine’s development is crucial in appreciating the importance of getting your annual flu shot. In this blog, we’ll delve into the facts about influenza and highlight the benefits of being proactive with the flu vaccine this season.

The Ever-Changing Nature of Influenza

Influenza, or the flu, is not a static virus; it constantly changes through a process known as antigenic drift. This means that flu viruses undergo small genetic changes over time. As these changes accumulate, the antibodies your body has developed from previous flu infections or vaccinations may no longer recognize and effectively combat the new strains. This is why a person can catch the flu multiple times throughout their life.

The Annual Flu Vaccine: A Tailored Approach

Given the flu virus’s ability to evolve, scientists and health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) closely monitor the flu virus each year. They identify which strains are most likely to be prevalent in the upcoming flu season. Based on this data, the flu vaccine is updated annually to target those specific strains, enhancing its effectiveness in protecting against the current forms of the virus.

Benefits of Getting the Flu Vaccine Annually

  • Reduced Risk of Illness: The most apparent benefit is a reduced chance of getting the flu. While the vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it significantly lowers the risk of infection.
  • Protection for Vulnerable Populations: By getting vaccinated, you’re not just protecting yourself. You’re also helping to shield more vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, young children, and those with weakened immune systems, from the virus.
  • Less Severe Symptoms: If you do get the flu after vaccination, the symptoms are often milder compared to those who haven’t received the shot.
  • Prevention of Complications: The flu can lead to severe complications, especially in high-risk groups. The vaccine lowers the risk of these complications, which can include pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death.
  • Contributing to Herd Immunity: Widespread vaccination can help create herd immunity, making it harder for the flu to spread within the community.

Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that almost everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, with rare exceptions. It’s particularly crucial for those at higher risk of flu complications.

Get Your Flu Shot in Joliet

The flu vaccine is a key tool in our fight against the influenza virus. Its annual update is a necessary response to the flu’s ever-changing nature, ensuring the vaccine remains effective each season. At Primary Care Joliet, we encourage everyone to stay proactive about their health and get their flu vaccine. It’s a simple, yet effective way to protect yourself and your community from the flu.

As flu season continues in Illinois, remember that getting your flu shot is an easy and effective way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Schedule your flu vaccination today at Primary Care Joliet and take a significant step in protecting your health.

Posted on behalf of Primary Care of Joliet

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East Joliet Office

2025 S. Chicago St
Joliet, IL 60436

Clinic hours

Mon - Fri: 8AM - 5PM

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West Joliet Office

2202 Essington Rd
Joliet, IL 60435

Clinic hours

Mon - Fri: 8AM - 5PM

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Wilmington Office

121 Robert P. Weidling Dr
Wilmington, IL 60481

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Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri: 8AM - 4PM
Wed: closed

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