Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and influenza, two of the most common viral diseases in the world today. But whether you’ve gotten vaccinated or not, it’s normal to have questions.
Do you need to get a flu shot every year? Is COVID vaccination necessary? Is getting vaccinated really the best choice for you?
As leading pulmonary specialists, David Kamelhar, MD, Eric Teller, MD, and our team can help. We recommend COVID and flu vaccination to our patients at Kamelhar-Teller Pulmonology, and here’s why it’s so important for your health and the health of those around you.
How vaccination works
Vaccines introduce a very small amount material into your body that will stimulate your body to make antibodies to a specific germ. New vaccines are synthetic and not made from the germ (bacteria or virus itself). When you get a vaccination, your immune system identifies the disease and starts creating antibodies. If you are exposed to the disease later on, your immune system already knows what to do, and it can more effectively protect you from getting sick.
It is important to remember that you cannot contract the infection from the vaccine.
Vaccination is the best way to avoid preventable diseases. Most people get a series of vaccinations as children that offer lifelong protection from serious illnesses, including polio and measles, but other diseases require more frequent booster shots.
Viruses, including influenza and COVID-19, are two of the diseases that require boosters. That’s because viruses are constantly evolving, and a single shot isn’t enough to protect you.
New flu vaccines are developed every year based on the latest strains of the flu, and getting annual flu shots helps your immune system fend it off each flu season. While experts are still studying COVID and its newest variants, we recommend getting vaccinated to better protect yourself and those around you.
Why vaccination is so important
Getting vaccinated against COVID and the flu offers two major benefits: It lowers your risk of getting sick and reduces your chance of spreading the diseases to others.
Both COVID and the flu cause respiratory symptoms like:
These symptoms are bothersome for many — but for people with preexisting lung and pulmonary conditions, they pose an even more serious risk. When people who are at high risk get COVID or the flu, they can have severe symptoms and require hospitalization. For some, these symptoms are life-threatening.
Vaccination lowers your risk of these serious complications if you have a preexisting condition. And even if you’re generally healthy, it lowers your risk of spreading the diseases to someone else who has preexisting conditions.
Getting the COVID vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months old and older get the primary COVID-19 vaccine series. Everyone over age 5 should get the COVID-19 booster if they are eligible. It is to be noted that newer strains of COVID-19 will be addressed by the vaccine that will be released shortly.
If you haven’t gotten your COVID vaccination or booster yet, talk to Dr. Kamelhar and Dr. Teller to find out if you should get vaccinated.
Getting the flu vaccine
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months old and older get an annual flu shot. Every year, a new flu shot is developed to protect against the strains most likely to be prevalent in the fall and winter. Most shots offer protection against three or four strains of the flu.
It takes a few weeks for your body to develop antibodies against the flu, so it’s a good idea to get your shot before flu season is in full swing. We typically recommend getting your flu shot by mid- October, but if you miss it, it’s not too late. Getting a flu shot at any point in the season can help protect you from getting sick.
Even if you get COVID and flu vaccinations, it’s possible that you will still get sick. However, your risk of serious illness and complications is much lower after vaccination, so you’re more likely to make a faster recovery.
Have questions about which vaccinations are right for you? We’re here to help. Schedule an appointment at Kamelhar-Teller Pulmonology by calling 212-685-6611 or book online now.