With the viral pandemic we are currently experiencing via COVID-19, many people have been aware of the signs and symptoms that they should watch out for. One of the obstacles that create worry for patients and hinder healthcare providers from easily diagnosing the sick is the fact that symptoms of the dreaded virus are very much similar to other illnesses, like the flu. But now that the development and marketing of the COVID-19 vaccine are underway, many feel relieved that this worldwide ‘plague’ may be nearing its extinction. Meanwhile, while all eyes are on this international disease, many people still have a chance of getting flu once in a while. Of the many pros and cons of flu shot, the fact that you can still get the virus is definitely a top consideration. So, if you are wondering if you can get the flu more than once, the answer is a resounding Yes.
Getting the Flu Twice (or More) in a Season
It was such a hassle to get the flu once, so think about the possibility of getting it again after a few months or even weeks! This is very possible because the virus has 4 types, Influenza A, B, C, and D. Each type has several subtypes, and the subtypes have different strains of the virus, and they constantly mutate. What this means is that getting a flu vaccine that covers all the types may not necessarily mean that you can cover all the viral strains, and there is still a chance for you to get infected by the terrorizing illness.
Can you Get the Flu More than Once: Should you Get Worried?
The truth is, getting sick, in itself, is something to be worried about, especially during these times when being weak can lead you to harbor other bacteria and viruses that can further harm the body. Even people with simple coughs and colds can be at higher risk of getting the coronavirus, as well as other viruses like the flu. What flu shots or other live vaccines do to our body is to give us the weapons to prevent infection, somehow combat the symptoms of the disease, and allow us to cope and recuperate faster.
Symptoms of Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have, time and time again, issued warnings of the usual symptoms a person who contracted the flu might experience. Initially, the virus has been reported to have an incubation period of 1 to 4 days before symptoms arise. But there are times when a person infected by the flu bug can experience a sudden onset of the disease indicators instantly or upon direct exposure to the virus. These may include:
- Upset stomach
- Colds (either stuffy, congested nose, or runny nose)
- Cough (either dry or productive)
- Problem with breathing
- Chills or cold sweats
- Body weakness
- Poor appetite
- Irritability or uneasiness
- In some cases, vomiting or diarrhea (stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis)
Some patients feel 2 or 3 symptoms during the span of the viral infection, while many others feel as if the flu caused them to have almost all the symptoms at once. There may also be a chance that a person with the flu will not have any sign or symptom of the disease.
If you still are in doubt by this time, we have to say it again – Yes, you can get it more than once in a year, or even a season. Why? Because the four main types of the influenza virus have different subtypes and strains under them. This means that if you are infected by a strain of, let’s say, Influenza A, you can still get and have the flu bug from type B, C, or D. There is also a fair chance that you can get it again from a different strain or subtype of the same type. This is where the flu vaccine comes in handy; well, sort of.
Flu Vaccine: Up Close and Personal
When you have the flu, antibiotics won’t work. Bacteria, one of the common causes of diseases, can be beaten by antibiotics, yes, but viruses function differently. What you can only do to stop the flu is to get the flu vaccine. But halting the virus does not end there, because there is still a chance that you can contract the virus even after getting your dose. Here are the common reasons why you can still get the flu twice.
You got the vaccine before the flu season
Talk about being overly prepared! This is one of the very few instances where over-preparedness has its downfall. If you get the vaccine long before the virus hits, which is sometime in November onwards, the body’s additional soldiers can function ‘suboptimally’ by the time the flu hits you. For instance, getting the flu shot in June or July may not be a good idea if the flu season starts near the end of the year. What the CDC recommends is having a shot a few weeks before the flu season in your area.
You got it right after your shot
The flu vaccine does not work as soon as you get the shot. The truth is, it needs a couple of weeks to build up your antibodies and work. That is the very reason why you should get it a few weeks before the flu season starts so that you give your body the time to build its defenses and up your immune system to combat the virus.
Your strain and the vaccine’s may be a mismatch
This means that the type, subtypes, and strains of the flu virus that may hit you are not the same type, subtype, and strain that the vaccine is fighting against. The truth is, flu vaccines are not fail-proof; they are not 100% effective, and the health authorities are aware of that. Viruses mutate, so the strains that a particular country has may be different from what we have in our area. What’s more is that there is a certain timeframe of the validity of the vaccine, so most doctors prescribe getting the flu vaccine annually.
You have a generally weak body
If you have a debilitating disease or an impaired immune system, to begin with, the chances of guarding your body against the flu virus even with the vaccine may be slim. For it to work, the vaccine relies on the innate strength of the body. So, if you have an elderly family member, baby, or toddler, you need to do everything you can so as to lower their exposure to the virus because that is the only way for them not to be infected.
Nowadays, having a healthy body and following the proper ways in preventing the spread of flu are what’s important, whether we are in the flu season or not. Proper handwashing, maintaining social distance, keeping the habit of covering mouth and nose, and wearing face masks are just some of the things we can do to help stop flu and keep ourselves virus-free.