An Evaluation Of The Seasonal Influenza Vaccine

2107 words - 8 pages

During the frigid winter months, the flu takes ahold of the entire country, constraining it in a cough-ridden, congested grasp until taking its leave in the warm months of spring. Several strains of the influenza virus compose collectively of the flu, and these strains mutate — or alter their genetic composition — as the virus creeps into and out of the people and animals it infects. Throughout the year, researchers and doctors scramble to find the most effective prevention for the evasive flu so that one may not feel its wrath. Their main weapon, the vaccination, comes with an apprehensiveness that extends beyond a dread of needles. For the vaccine’s dependence on a prediction, many blast the injection as ineffective and temporary: the flu virus’ mutations necessitate the development of a new shot every year. (Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine, CDC.gov) Others contend that the shot can harm as much as the virus itself, pointing to the potential for allergic reactions and sometimes severe side effects as evidence. With the risk of side effects and unclear effectiveness in mind, many will elect to either not vaccinate or seek treatment after the flu hits; a common treatment for the flu, the antiviral, disintegrates the virus after it strikes, yet its effectiveness has increasingly declined. While the flu vaccination does not provide comprehensive protection against the influenza virus, the vaccine, in conjunction with other precautionary — not reactionary — measures, provides the needed defense against contraction. Additionally, while a potential recipient should weigh the risk of side-effects and allergic reactions, a doctor can predict allergic reactions by the patient’s medical history and by running tests; other side-effects, while potentially severe, do not outweigh the benefit of the vaccine, keeping in mind their relative rarity and the flu’s menacing prominence. This considered, those for whom the vaccine would not produce predictable harmful side effects should take it for their own health and for the health of the general population.
The most pronounced argument against the flu vaccine involves its effectiveness, or purported lack thereof; such, however, runs contrary to statistical and biological evidence. This argument hinges on the composition and timing of the vaccine: the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, the American governmental agency responsible for developing the vaccination, must formulate the vaccine before the virus strikes. (Key Facts About the Seasonal Flu Vaccine, CDC.gov) Therefore, these researchers must predict the strains that will dominate in a given flu season; while they do not predict cloaked with a blindfold, the flu and its mutations carry with it a level of randomness and uncertainty that can make a year’s vaccine functionally ineffective if the shot and the circulating flu strand do not match. As a safeguard against this, developers prepare the vaccine so that it contains multiple related,...

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