Annual Flu Vaccine
No, it’s not foolproof. But, an annual flu vaccine is a great way to insure against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. It’s designed to protect against the three or four flu viruses most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season.
For most people, a flu vaccine can protect them throughout the flu season, which typically lasts from October to May. What is the best policy? Get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available, ideally in October.
For young kids: The CDC suggests the nasal spray vaccine for healthy children ages 2 through 8. For young children, there is evidence that it may work better than the flu shot (and be a little less scary, too). But if it’s not available early in the flu season, don’t wait. Go ahead with the flu shot. Remember: even healthy children are at risk of flu complications that are serious enough to land them in the hospital.
If you’re pregnant: In recent years, several studies have shown that the flu vaccine is safe and effective, no matter your stage of pregnancy. The flu shot protects both you and your baby. In fact, it is much more dangerous not to be vaccinated. In addition to pneumonia, the flu can lead to premature labor and other complications. However, if you are pregnant, have just given birth, or are breast-feeding, don’t get the live (nasal mist) vaccine. You should have an inactivated version (shot) instead.
If you’re over 65: As you age, the flu vaccine may not last as well as it does in younger, healthier people. If you’re over 65 or have a weaker immune system, you may not create as many antibodies. And, your antibody levels may drop more quickly.
A recent study has found that a high-dose flu shot is more effective in seniors than the standard dose. Approved for people 65 and older, the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times as much antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) as the standard dose. With its use, researchers believe that about 25 percent more flu cases in seniors could be prevented. The CDC doesn’t recommend this vaccine for all seniors, though. Be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if it’s right for you or someone your love.
Where to get a flu vaccine: You can always see your doctor or go to a health or student clinic. You can also come in to our pharmacy. We make it easy for you. If you have any questions, just give us a call or stop in.
Other ways to stay healthy—and keep others healthier—throughout flu season
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Stay away from sick people—as much as possible.
- If you come down with the flu, stay home. After all, your productivity won’t matter as much if you make everyone at your workplace sick!
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
1. CDC: “What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season.” Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm Accessed September 2, 2014.
2. HealthDay: “When Colds, Flu Lead to Complications in Kids.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_147664.html Accessed September 2, 2014.
3. HealthDay: “All Pregnant Women Need Flu Shot: Ob/Gyn Group.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_147938.html Accessed: September 2, 2014.
4. HealthDay: “High-Dose Flu Vaccine May Better Protect the Elderly: Study.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_147843.html Accessed: September 2, 2014.
5. Diaz DA, Dunning AJ et al. Efficacy of High-Dose versus Standard-Dose Influenza Vaccine in Older Adults. N Engl J Med 2014; 371: 635-45.