How do 'Flu vaccines work?

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How do 'Flu vaccines work?

Flu vaccines are made with bits of different strains of the 'flu virus. Each year the World Health Organisation monitors the spread of 'flu viruses worldwide and decides which strains need to be in the vaccine. After it is injected into your body, your immune system makes antibodies to the different 'flu viruses. When you are infected by the real or similar viruses your body is able to quickly recognise them and get rid of them. (See the immune system section and the vaccination section of this site for more information). The NHS Direct website and the Department of Health website explain in more detail the 'flu vaccination campaign. The 'flu vaccine can be 70-80% effective if there is a good match between the strains in the vaccine and the strains of 'flu causing the epidemic. (See the Public Health Laboratory Service information). 'Flu vaccines cannot give you 'flu because they don't contain any live 'flu viruses that could cause infection.

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Date of Posting: 14/01/2003
Date of next Review: 15/01/2005

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MeSH keywords:
Antiviral Agents; Influenza; Influenza Vaccine

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