What is the flu?
Influenza, better known as the flu, is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system. The virus is passed from person to person though respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs. People find themselves at risk for contracting the flu when inhaling the infected droplets or touching their eyes, mouth or nose after touching something that has been infected.
In the U.S., flu season typically runs from October to May, most commonly peaking between December and March. Although modern medicine has significantly impacted the number of people affected by the flu, there was a time when tens of millions around the globe felt its reach.
In 1918, the world-wide flu epidemic claimed between 20 million and 50 million lives. At the time, doctors and scientists were not aware of what caused the virus and what contributed to its rapid spread. By the 1940s, however, American scientists had developed and licensed the first flu vaccine. In the following 10 years, vaccine manufacturers learned to reliably produce vaccines to control and prevent future pandemics.
How do I know if I have the flu?
If you find yourself sick with flu-like symptoms, it is recommended that you remain at home, avoiding contact with people except medical personnel. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever or Chills
- Sore Throat
- Nasal Congestion
- Muscle or Body Ache
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children)
Who should get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that all people above the age of 6 months be vaccinated with the flu vaccine. Special emphasis should be given to certain “at risk” populations, including children aged 6-59 months, adults above the age of 50, and women who are or will be pregnant during flu season, among others.
Individuals should not get a vaccine if they are younger than 6 months old or have experienced severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients.
Talk to your doctor before getting a flu shot if you are feeling ill, have previously been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), or have an allergy to egg or other vaccine ingredients.
Methods for Vaccination
There are three methods for vaccination: nasal spray, trivalent injection, and quadrivalent injection. Trivalent vaccines are made up of three compounds, while the quadrivalent vaccine is made up of four.
The nasal spray is not recommended for the 2017-2018 flu season.
Can I still get the flu if I have received the flu vaccine?
Yes, you can still get the flu even if you have been vaccinated. According to CNN, the vaccine typically protects only 50%-60% of those immunized.
The CDC reports on the effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine over recent years. Although the influenza vaccination does not guarantee protection against the virus, medical professionals maintain it is still the best way to protect yourself against the flu.
Flu Shot Potential Side Effects
There are several side effects associated with the flu vaccine, ranging from mild to serious.
Mild Side Effects can include:
- Soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- Fever (Low Grade)
Serious Side Effects can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling around the eyes or lips
- Racing Heart
- Changes in behavior
- High Fever
If you experience any of these serious reactions, you should seek medical attention immediately.
In some cases, symptoms persist and develop into long-term illnesses
Injuries Associated with the Flu Vaccine in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Porgram include:
- Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Brachial Neuritis
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
- Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Transverse Myelitis (TM)
If you believe you have suffered an adverse event following the flu vaccine, your or your doctor may file a report with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). You may file a report yourself here.
If the resulting injury lasts more than 6 months, results in surgical intervention during inpatient hospitalization, or results in death, you may be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Vaccines are an important part of public health, working to save lives by preventing disease. Most of the time, vaccines are administered without any serious problems. Like with any medication, however, there is a risk of side effects, ranging from mild to serious.
For this reason, the US government created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), a “no-fault” alternative to the traditional legal system. Petitions can be filed by any individual, at any age, after developing an injury believed to be a result of a covered vaccine, if jurisdictional requirements are met.
Conway Homer, P.C. is the most experienced vaccine injury law firm in the United States. We represent clients from all 50 states and have advocated for landmark cases that have shaped the Vaccine Program and made it friendlier and more generous to those individuals who suffer from vaccine injuries.
To get in touch with our dedicated team, click here for a free consultation.