What To Do If Your Older Parent Or Relative Is Unwilling Or Unable To Get Vaccinated
Now, what if your older parent wont, or cant, get a flu shot?
Some older adults just dont want to get it. Here are some things you can try:
- Ask them to clarify what their concerns are. Its important to start by listening, in order to understand what an older person believes about the flu and the flu shot.
- Provide information to dispel myths and misunderstandings. Sometimes all people need is a little of the right kind of information.
- Point out that it can benefit an older persons family members and neighbors. Getting a flu shot can reduce the risk that we pass the flu on to another person. People are sometimes more willing to take action to protect others than to protect their own health.
- Make sure they know they wont have to pay for the flu shot. If you get the shot from a provider who takes Medicare, it shouldnt cost anything.
- Offer to go together to get your flu shots. Sometimes it helps to make it a family outing.
There are also some older adults for whom its hard to get a flu shot, such as people who are homebound or have very limited transportation options.
If this is your situation, the main thing to do is encourage flu shots for family and others coming to the house. For older adults who dont get out much, their main source of exposure to influenza and other dangerous viruses will be from those who come to them.
Above all, dont panic if your older loved one cant or wont get a flu shot.
Meet The Different Types Of Flu Vaccine
IIV are made with either inactivated flu viruses or with only a single protein from the flu virus . They do not contain any live flu viruses, so they cannot cause the flu, even in people with severely weakened immune systems . IIV are injected .
LAIV contain flu viruses that have been weakened so that they create a protective immune response but do not cause the flu in healthy people . LAIV is given as a nasal spray .
Traditionally, both IIV and LAIV influenza vaccines have been produced to protect against three different seasonal influenza viruses . However, recently vaccines that protect against four different viruses have become available in more and more European countries. While quadrivalent IIV are expected to replace the trivalent vaccines over time , all currently available LAIV are quadrivalent vaccines .
Ii3 Vaccine Products Authorized For Use In Canada
This section describes the influenza vaccine products that are authorized for use in Canada for the 2020-2021 season. All influenza vaccines available in Canada have been authorized by Health Canada. However, not all products authorized for use are necessarily available in the marketplace. The vaccine manufacturers determine whether they will make any or all of their products available in a given market. Provincial and territorial health authorities then determine which of the products available for purchase will be used in their respective publicly funded influenza immunization programs and for which population groups.
The antigenic characteristics of circulating influenza virus strains provide the basis for selecting the strains included in each year’s vaccine. Vaccine selection by the WHO generally occurs more than 6 months prior to the start of the influenza season to allow time for the vaccine manufacturers to produce the required quantity of vaccine. All manufacturers that distribute influenza vaccine products in Canada confirm to Health Canada that the vaccines to be marketed in Canada for the upcoming influenza season contain the WHO’s recommended antigenic strains for the Northern Hemisphere. Vaccine producers may use antigenically equivalent strains because of their growth properties.
Standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccine
Both trivalent and quadrivalent products are authorized for use in Canada.
Adjuvanted inactivated influenza vaccine
Recommended Reading: What Is In The Flu Shot
People At High Risk Of Complications From The Flu
- people with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
Should Everyone 65 Years
The immune system weakens as humans age. This places older individuals at greater risk of severe illness. Aging also affects the immune systems ability to respond to threats. A higher dose flu shot gives older people a better immune response and better protection.
Check with a healthcare professional if this vaccine is right for your medical situation.
You May Like: Flu Symptoms Day By Day
Who Is Laiv Available For In Europe
LAIV are only approved for protecting people between the ages of 2 and 17 years who do not have underlying medical conditions . The vaccine should not be given to pregnant women .
Children aged between two and eight years who have not previously had an influenza vaccine, it is recommended to give two doses, at least four weeks apart .
Weve met the different types of flu vaccine available in europe, and seen which age groups each is available for. Flu vaccines are safe and well-tolerated, but the flu can be severe. Have you had your flu vaccination?
What To Know About Flu Shots For Older Adults
Q: Is the flu vaccine effective for older adults?
A: You may have heard people say that the flu shot doesnt work in older people. This is not entirely correct.
Now, its true that flu vaccine is usually less effective in older adults because aging immune systems tend to not respond as vigorously to the vaccine. In other words, older adults tend to create fewer antibodies in response to vaccination. So if they are later exposed to flu virus, they have a higher chance of falling ill, compared to younger adults.
But less effective doesnt mean not at all effective. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that vaccination prevented about 700,000 influenza cases and 65,000 hospitalizations, for adults aged 65 and older.
For more on the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in older adults, see:
To provide more effective vaccination to aging immune systems, vaccine makers have developed stronger vaccines against the flu, which I explain in the next section.
Q: Are there flu shots specifically designed for older adults?
Yes, over the past several years, vaccine makers have developed vaccines that are designed to work better with an aging immune system. Most research studies to date show that these stimulate aging immune systems to produce more antibodies to influenza. Theres also some evidence that these vaccines reduce the risk of being hospitalized for influenza.
Don’t Miss: What To Do If Arm Hurts After Flu Shot
Who Needs A Flu Shot
An annual flu shot is recommended for everyone aged six months and older, especially those at high risk for experiencing severe illness and complications from the flu. People at high risk for flu complications include:
- Adults aged 65 years and older
- Children younger than two years old
- People with asthma
- People who are obese with a body mass index of 40 or higher
- People younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
- People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications
- People who have had a stroke
- Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
- American Indians and Alaska Natives
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
According to CDC, children younger than six months and people with severe allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients should not get the flu shot. Talk to your doctor to get a personalized recommendation if you are uncertain about whether you or someone in your family should get a flu shot.
Antivirals: What To Do When You Already Have The Flu
When you come down with the flu, antiviral medicine can shorten its duration. The FDA has approved six influenza antiviral drugs in the U.S. But theyre all in somewhat short supply, so you might not be given them if youre not a child or elderly. This is why we get our flu shots, people!
The antiviral you probably already know goes by the brand name of Tamiflu, which you can get over the counter with relative ease even if youre not young or elderly. This drug, along with two others that work in the same manner , block an enzyme the virus needs to replicate. They can shave up to a day off your illness, but they need multiple doses to keep the drug working. Tamiflu, for instance, requires patients to take it twice a day for five days.
The newest antiviral, Baloxavir marboxil , is a single-dose antiviral drug approved in 2019 by the FDA. Baloxavir is for people with basic flu who are 12 years and older and have had symptoms for less than 48 hours. In a phase 2 trial published by The New England Journal of Medicine, it shaved off upwards of 28 hours of flu symptoms . This antiviral stands out in that its the only one that gets to the root of replication, messing with the virus RNA to stop it from reproducing. Also, its one of the only ones to come in a single dose, so you can pop it once and forget about it.
Recommended Reading: Is The Flu Shot Good To Get
Myth #: It Contains Thimerosal Which May Be Harmful
Thimerosal a preservative that contains mercury has never been shown to be harmful, Cunningham said. The type of mercury linked with nervous system damage is methyl mercury, he said. Concerns over levels of methyl have led to recommendations that pregnant women avoid eating large amounts of certain types of fish, such as swordfish.
In contrast, thimerosal is an ethyl mercury compound.
Still, because the preservative raised controversy, especially over a now-disproven link to autism, it was taken out of almost all U.S. vaccines starting in 2001, Cunningham said.
The injectable form of the flu vaccine is available to health care providers as large, multidose bottles and small vials carrying individual doses. A tiny amount of thimerosal is added to the multidose bottles to ensure that no bacteria will grow in the vaccine, Cunningham said. The individual-dose bottles contain no thimerosal.
The nasal spray form of the flu vaccine also contains no thimerosal, he noted.
Latest On Omicron Variant And Covid
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
Theres been great concern about the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. A major reason is Omicron has accumulated over 50 mutations, including about 30 in the spike protein, the part of the coronavirus that mRNA vaccines teach our immune systems to attack. All of these genetic changes raise the possibility that Omicron could cause breakthrough infections in people whove already received a Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine.
So, what does the science show? The first data to emerge present somewhat encouraging results. While our existing mRNA vaccines still offer some protection against Omicron, there appears to be a significant decline in neutralizing antibodies against this variant in people who have received two shots of an mRNA vaccine.
However, initial results of studies conducted both in the lab and in the real world show that people who get a booster shot, or third dose of vaccine, may be better protected. Though these data are preliminary, they suggest that getting a booster will help protect people already vaccinated from breakthrough or possible severe infections with Omicron during the winter months.
Sigal and colleagues also tested the ability of antibodies in the plasma from 12 fully vaccinated individuals to neutralize Omicron. Six of the individuals had no history of COVID-19. The other six had been infected with the original variant in the first wave of infections in South Africa.
Don’t Miss: When Do Flu Shots Start 2021
Can Severe Problems Occur
Life-threatening allergic reactions to flu shots are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the shot. These reactions can occur among persons who are allergic to something that is in the vaccine, such as egg protein or other ingredients. While severe reactions are uncommon, you should let your doctor, nurse, clinic, or pharmacist know if you have a history of allergy or severe reaction to influenza vaccine or any part of flu vaccine.
There is a small possibility that flu vaccine could be associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, generally no more than 1 or 2 cases per million people vaccinated. This is much lower than the risk of severe complications from flu, which can be prevented by flu vaccine.
How Safe Is Fluzone High
Some side effects were reported more frequently after vaccination with trivalent Fluzone High-Dose than after standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines. The most common side effects experienced during clinical studies were mild and temporary, and included pain, redness at the injection site, headache, muscle aches, and malaise. Most people had minimal or no side effects after receiving the Fluzone High-Dose. In a study comparing Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent with trivalent Fluzone High-Dose, some of these side effects were slightly more common with the quadrivalent vaccine, but most were mild and resolved within a few days.
You May Like: What Does The Flu Feel Like
Who Is Most At Risk
Complications from the flu can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or heart attacks and, in some cases, death. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
Some people are more vulnerable to complications and hospitalization from the flu:
- babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot, but they’ll get some protection if their parent got the flu shot while they were pregnant
- children under 5 years of age, because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
- people 65 years old and older, because their immune systems are weaker and they are more likely to have an underlying condition that increases their risk
- pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change especially later in pregnancy making them more likely to get seriously ill from the flu
- people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes
What Are The Side Effects That Could Occur With The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include:
- Runny nose
If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually are mild and short-lived. People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. Rarely, people can experience a severe allergic reaction after a flu vaccine there are about 1-2 cases of severe allergic reactions per million flu vaccine doses administered and these reactions can be treated with medication. People who think that they have been injured by a flu vaccine can file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program external icon.
More information about the safety of flu vaccines is available at Influenza Vaccine Safety.
V Choice Of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine: Additional Information
With the recent availability of a number of new influenza vaccines, some of which are designed to enhance immunogenicity in specific age groups, the choice of product is now more complex. Section II.5 summarizes NACI’s recommendations on the choice of currently authorized influenza vaccines. This section provides more details for these recommendations.
What Is The Cost Of The Flu Shot
You may have concerns about the cost of getting an annual flu vaccination. The cost varies depending on where you go and whether you have insurance. In some cases, you may be able to get the flu shot free of charge or at a low cost.
Typical prices for the adult flu vaccine range between $0 and $40 , depending on the vaccine you receive and your insurance coverage.
Ask your doctor about getting the flu shot during an office visit. Some pharmacies and hospitals in your community may provide vaccinations. You can also research flu clinics at community centers or senior centers.
Note that some of the typical providers like schools and workplaces may not offer them this year due to closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Use websites like Vaccine Finder to find locations near you that offer the flu vaccine, and contact them to compare costs.
The sooner you get a vaccination, the better. On average, it can take up to 2 weeks for your body to produce antibodies to protect against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October.
Also Check: Flu And Pneumonia Vaccine Same Day
Types Of Influenza Viruses
This is a picture of an influenza A virus. Influenza A viruses are classified by subtypes based on the properties of their hemagglutinin and neuraminidase surface proteins. There are 18 different HA subtypes and 11 different NA subtypes. Subtypes are named by combining the H and N numbers e.g., A, A. Click on the image to enlarge the picture.
There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D. Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States. Influenza A viruses are the only influenza viruses known to cause flu pandemics, i.e., global epidemics of flu disease. A pandemic can occur when a new and different influenza A virus emerges that both infects people and has the ability to spread efficiently among people. Influenza C virus infections generally cause mild illness and are not thought to cause human epidemics. Influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in people.
Conversely, when two flu viruses are antigenically similar, a hosts immune response elicited by infection or vaccination with one of the viruses will recognize and neutralize the other virus, thereby protecting against the other virus.
Influenza A viruses also change both genetically and antigenically. Influenza A viruses have formed many separate, genetically different clades in recent years that continue to co-circulate.