The body’s immune system fights off infections by producing antibodies, which are special compounds created to battle one specific type of germ. But the body isn’t able to fight off all types of infection. Vaccines like the flu shot stimulate the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that work to fight off the germs that cause influenza infection.
The vaccine uses a tiny amount of the flu virus to trigger the immune system response. Most vaccines use small amounts of “dead” or inactivate viruses while others, including the nasal spray for the flu, use weakened amounts of live or attenuated viruses. The amount of virus contained in the nasal spray is enough to stimulate antibody production, but it’s not enough to cause illness.
Some immunizations give lifetime immunity or immunity that lasts for several years. Others only provide immunity for one year. In the case of the flu, each year infections can be caused by new strains of flu viruses, and that means every year new vaccines must be manufactured to fight those specific strains. As a result, flu shots need to be updated annually to provide ongoing immunity.
No. Flu shots are the most effective way of preventing flu and the very serious complications it can cause. In most years, though, several types of flu viruses are active, and no one can predict with 100% accuracy which types will be most prevalent. Flu shots are designed to fight off the most common types of flu, which means if a child comes in contact with a less common flu virus, they can get sick.
Will flu shots make my child sick?
No. Flu shots don’t cause illness. Some children experience a mild fever or achy joints following their shot, but these symptoms are temporary and happen as a result of the body’s antibody production process, not from a flu infection.
The nasal spray vaccine typically is reserved for some very young children, the elderly, and patients for whom the shot isn’t an ideal choice. Drs. Dela Cruz can determine which method -- shot or spray -- is best for the individual patient.