(also known as the H1N1) is a respiratory condition which is highly infectious and can spread very quickly from one person to another. While it was earlier only detected in people with regular exposure to pigs (hence the name), it now primarily spreads from person to person.
Like many other strains of flu, swine flu is extremely contagious and can spread through air droplets produced by sneezing, coughing and even by touching infected areas where droplets have recently landed, including desks, utensils and tabletops. This is why the best means to prevent this deadly flu is to get vaccinated.
Infact, people with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, elderlies and those suffering from chronic health conditions are more susceptible to falling prey to swine flu. Even though the symptoms of H1N1 closely mimic the usual influenza infections (including cold, cough, high fever, body ache, running nose, sore throat etc.), some people may require hospitalization.
Who should get vaccinated?
Although the symptoms of swine flu are usually mild, pregnant women, very young children, elderlies and those with a weak immune system are more likely to be seriously ill with swine flu. Hence, even though everyone should make it a point to get swine flu vaccinations, the priority groups which are more at risk of catching this infection should get vaccinated without fail.
Vaccinations for swine flu
Vaccines have been developed to protect against the virus that causes swine flu. According to Dr Sushant Chhabra, HOD Emergency Medicine, Manipal Hospital, one should get the seasonal flu vaccine as it keeps getting updated every year to protect against new strains of viruses. The flu vaccination available in the market has four inactive strains and is known as the quadrivalent flu vaccine.
The swine flu vaccination is ideally taken once in a year and its immunity period is usually between 6 months to one year.
Side-effects of the vaccine
Some of the most common side-effects of a swine flu vaccine include allergic reaction, fever and redness and pain at the site of injection. Some people may also experience tiredness, headaches and muscle ache after getting the flu shot.
Keep in mind that if you had a severe allergic reaction to the previous dose of vaccine, it is important that you inform your medical care provider about the same.