The flu is serious!!!
We tend to think of the flu as something like a cold or stomach bug, however, it is a serious disease. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die from the flu and related complications. Even relatively healthy people can become seriously ill and because the virus is airborne, (spread through air) healthy habits, such as washing hands frequently, are not enough. A yearly flu shot is a good way to reduce your risk of getting sick; you need a new shot every year because the most common strains of flu change every flu season. Each year’s vaccine is tailored to include the strains predicted to be the most common during the upcoming flu season.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective!
While it is true the flu vaccine cannot completely eliminate your risk of getting the flu, it can reduce your risk by 50-60%. Additionally, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu because the virus present in your flu vaccine is inactivated, meaning it is not infectious. The most common side effects of the vaccine are tenderness, swelling or redness at the site of the shot. A low-grade fever and muscle aches are also possible side effects.
There is an option for those who dislike needles!
An intradermal flu vaccine is available, which is administered into the skin as opposed to a traditional vaccine which is injected into muscle. Because it is administered at a different site, the intradermal vaccine has a smaller needle!
Different vaccines are recommended for those over the age of 65!
As we age, our immune systems can weaken, which means that a threat must be stronger in order for the body to recognize and fight it. Because the goal of a vaccine is to produce an immune response to help protect against future exposure to a virus, there are two different flu vaccines for those over the age of 65. The first is a high dose vaccine, which is four times stronger than a normal flu vaccine. Another option is a flu vaccine with adjuvant, an adjuvant is substance added to vaccine to produce a stronger immune response.
You can help keep babies and seriously ill people safe!!!
Did you know that refusing to vaccinate yourself puts others at risk? This is because of something called “herd immunity.” Basically, when a high enough number of people have immunity to a disease, either from previous infection or vaccination, everyone will be safe because there is a low chance of the disease spreading. This means that people who cannot be vaccinated, like babies and those with serious medical conditions, will be safe. So go ahead and get a flu shot, you’ll be someone’s hero!
What’s new this flu season?
A few things are new this season:
- The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.
- Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).
- Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.
- Two new quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines have been licensed: one inactivated influenza vaccine (“Afluria Quadrivalent” IIV) and one recombinant influenza vaccine (“Flublok Qudrivalent” RIV).
- The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.
- The trivalent formulation of Afluria is recommended for people 5 years and older (from 9 years and older) in order to match the Food and Drug Administration package insert.
Please visit the CDC’s website for more information about the flu vaccine.