Get your shots!

Flu vaccine: 7 hidden health benefits you need to know

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Flu season is coming, and with combined risks from this virus and Covid-19, we could be in for a tough winter.

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Luckily, this year we’ll have more tools to mitigate illness than we did in 2020.

Both Covid-19 and flu shots are readily available in the U.S. and the CDC is encouraging people to get vaccinated for both.

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Even if you’re young and healthy, taking preventative measures like vaccination significantly reduces your risk of getting seriously ill.

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But despite the ritual of getting your flu shot every year, there are probably things you don’t know about the jab.

Here are 7 critical facts you might not know about flu shots:

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7. The flu shot changes every year

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That’s because different strains become prominent every flu season, so the vaccine composition is tweaked to target them specifically.

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There are 4 main types of flu viruses: A, B, C, and D.

But it’s influenza A and B that cause widespread outbreaks every year.

6. This year’s shot protects against four different flu viruses

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Just one shot can protect you from two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.

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There are also several different flu vaccines on the market, though they’re all specialized to protect against the same viruses.

5. Flu shots not only reduce your odds of getting the flu, but also decrease its severity if you do get infected

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Getting vaccinated never guarantees that you won’t get sick at all. But it does offer twofold protection:

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1. It lessens your chances of getting severely ill and reduces how long your sickness lasts

2. It can prevent you from getting sick in the first place, even if you come in contact with the virus

4. A universal flu vaccine might be on the way

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The U.S. National Institutes of Health announced in June that it’s beginning clinical trials for a flu vaccine that could target nearly any strain.

A universal flu vaccine would offer long-lasting immunity and eliminate the need for yearly vaccination.

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3. Flu shots might be linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

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A recent study suggests people who get at least one flu shot over their lifetime have a 17 percent lower chance of having Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, the risk got lower with more frequent vaccinations.

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It’s unclear why this correlation exists, but the researchers think flu vaccines could have a preventative effect that extends beyond offering protection against viral infections.

2. People as young as 6 months old can get a flu vaccine

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In fact, the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine as a preventative measure.

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Needles can be scary, so there’s also a nasal spray flu vaccine approved for people 2 years and older.

1. You can get a Covid-19 and flu shot at the same time

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It’s perfectly safe to get both vaccines at the same time while you’re at the clinic, according to the CDC.

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And since it’s possible to contract the flu and Covid-19 at the same time, it’s vital to make sure you boost your defenses against both illnesses.