Different Types Of Flu Vaccines: Which One Is Right For You
Flu season is quickly approaching in the United States.
Per the CDCs recommendation, all individuals aged six-months and older should receive a flu vaccine each year ideally in October to protect themselves against the flu.
However, there are multiple types of flu vaccines to choose from depending on your age, health conditions, and personal preferences. In this article, we are going to explain these differences so you can explore which vaccine type is right for you.
What Vaccines Are Available For The 2021
There are nine vaccines that have been approved and released by the FDA for the 2021-2022 flu season. This year, all FDA-approved flu vaccines are quadrivalent meaning they protect against four different strains of influenza . Heres a rundown of the available flu vaccines for the year.
Its important to note that pharmacies and healthcare providers may only carry a few brands of flu vaccine not all nine that are FDA-approved. If you are interested in or know you need a certain flu vaccine, its best to call ahead and see if your preferred vaccine is available.
Are Flu Vaccines Effective
Yes. The effectiveness of flu vaccines varies with each season due to the ever-changing nature of the virus. However, receiving a flu vaccine significantly reduces your chance of becoming sick from the flu and spreading the virus to others it also lessens the severity of the virus if you do become sick.
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Types Of Flu Vaccines
The flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 season are quadrivalent formulations, meaning that they protect you from four strains of the flu virus. The strains included in each year’s flu vaccine are determined based on which strains are most likely to be circulating and making people sick.
There are different ways to get the flu vaccine:
- Injected with a needle into the arm muscle
- Nasal spray
- A jet injector using a high-pressure, narrow stream of liquid to penetrate the skin without a needle
Flu vaccines are produced in several different forms:
- Live attenuated virus grown in an egg-based material
- Inactivated virus grown in an egg-based material or cell culture
- Vaccines manufactured with synthetic material that uses recombinant technology
Some forms of the vaccine are available in more than one way of delivery. Check with your healthcare provider to determine which vaccine is available to you.
There are different brands of flu vaccines, which you may see at your doctors office or pharmacy.
|Flu Vaccines for 2021/2022 Season|
Annual Selection Of Viruses
The composition of influenza vaccines are updated annually by WHO based on information gathered from the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System , a partnership of 141 national influenza centres in 111 countries, 6 WHO collaborating centres and 4 WHO essential regulatory laboratories.
The WHO GISRS collects and analyses influenza virus samples from around the world on an ongoing basis. Each year, 1 or more components of the vaccine designated for the coming influenza season in the northern and/or southern hemisphere might be changed to reflect the most frequent and recent circulating influenza A and B viruses.
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Reasons To Consider Getting A Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine significantly reduces the risk of contracting the flu. Consider the 20192020 season: People who had the vaccine were 39% less likely to get the flu than those who did not.
In addition to preventing illness, the flu vaccine also reduces the risk of hospitalization and death. Heres what researchers have found about the flu vaccine:
- Getting the vaccine reduces the risk of intensive-care unit hospitalization by 26% and the risk of death by 31%, according to a 2021 study.
- Among adults who are hospitalized for the flu, people who are vaccinated are 59% less likely to need intensive care unit care, according to a 2018 study.
- People with heart disease who get the vaccine are less likely to experience cardiac events.
- People with diabetes and chronic lung disease who get the vaccine are less likely to be hospitalized for those conditions.
- Pregnant people who get the vaccine are 40% less likely to be hospitalized for flu than pregnant people who did not get the vaccine.
In addition to protecting you, getting the flu vaccine can keep you from contracting the flu and passing it to others, including infants and the elderly, who are at higher risks for complications.
Pregnant people who get the vaccine help protect their baby from the flu , which can be valuable during the first six months of life when a child is not able to be vaccinated.
Who Should Not Have The Flu Vaccine
Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs.
Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’re better before having the flu vaccine.
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Flu Vaccine Effectiveness For 20212022 Season
Each year, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the strains of the flu that scientists believe will be most common. However, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on which flu strains are most prevalent and how they compare to the strains that the vaccine protects against.
Because of this, flu vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year. Scientists dont yet have estimates for the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for the 20212022 season. In addition, in the 20202021 flu season the CDC didnt estimate the effectiveness of the vaccine because transmission of the flu was historically low, likely due to COVID-19 precautions that also protect against the flu.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Influenza Immunisation
You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common side effects of influenza vaccines include:
- pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in
- fever, tiredness, body aches.
Talk to your immunisation provider about possible side effects of the influenza vaccines, or if you or your child have side effects that worry you.
The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.
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Allergic Reactions To The Flu Vaccine
It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Anyone can report a suspected side effect of a vaccine through the Yellow Card Scheme.
Rapid Response To Pandemic Flu
The rapid development, production, and distribution of pandemic influenza vaccines could potentially save millions of lives during an influenza pandemic. Due to the short time frame between identification of a pandemic strain and need for vaccination, researchers are looking at novel technologies for vaccine production that could provide better “real-time” access and be produced more affordably, thereby increasing access for people living in low- and moderate-income countries, where an influenza pandemic may likely originate, such as live attenuated technology and recombinant technologies . As of July 2009, more than seventy known clinical trials have been completed or are ongoing for pandemic influenza vaccines. In September 2009, the FDA approved four vaccines against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus , and expected the initial vaccine lots to be available within the following month.
In January 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Audenz as a vaccine for the H5N1 flu virus. Audenz is a vaccine indicated for active immunization for the prevention of disease caused by the influenza A virus H5N1 subtype contained in the vaccine. Audenz is approved for use in persons six months of age and older at increased risk of exposure to the influenza A virus H5N1 subtype contained in the vaccine.
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Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccines
LAIV is approved for use only in persons aged 249 years who do not have underlying medical conditions. The vaccine should, however, not be administered to pregnant women. LAIV is given as a nasal spray, 1 dose only but children aged 28 years who have not received seasonal influenza vaccine during the previous influenza season should receive 2 doses, at least 4 weeks apart.
LAIV is made from attenuated, or weakened, viruses and does not cause influenza, although it can cause mild signs or symptoms . Most common side effects from the vaccine are mild and transient compared to symptoms of influenza infection.
Can I Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
No. The virus thats in the flu vaccine is either dead or for FluMist Quadrivalent extremely weak. Because of this, flu vaccines are unable to cause the flu. However, some people experience flu-like symptoms in the days that follow their vaccine. These are side effects of the flu vaccine, and its a sign your immune system is learning how to fight the flu virus.
After your flu vaccine, you may experience:
A sore, red, or swollen arm
Remember, these are expected side effects and dont mean youre getting sick with the flu. They should go away within a few days.
Unfortunately, its still possible to get sick with the flu after youve received your flu vaccine. It takes about 2 weeks after your vaccine for your immune system to protect you fully. So its possible to catch the flu during that time. And as mentioned earlier, flu vaccine effectiveness isnt perfect. Its also possible to get sick with a strain that wasnt included in the vaccine.
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Flu Vaccine And Covid
Flu vaccination is important because:
- more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
- if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
- getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses
Different Types Of Flu Vaccines
There are two categories of influenza vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the virus , and quadrivalent, which protects against four strains .
Within these two categories, there are numerous vaccine types to accommodate individuals of varying ages and health conditions so everyone can protect themselves against the flu.
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What Kinds Of Flu Vaccines Are Available
CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine during the 2021-2022 influenza season. Available influenza vaccines include quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine , recombinant influenza vaccine , or live attenuated influenza vaccine . No preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine over another.
Quadrivalent flu vaccines include:
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over others?
For the 2021-2022 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipients age and health status, including inactivated influenza vaccine , recombinant influenza vaccine , or live attenuated nasal spray influenza vaccine with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.
There are many vaccine options to choose from, but the most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
Who Should Vaccinate?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get an influenza vaccine every season with rare exception. CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has made this recommendation since the 2010-2011 influenza season.
More information is available at Who Needs a Flu Vaccine.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
When should I get vaccinated?
What Is Type A Flu Virus
Type A flu or influenza A viruses are capable of infecting animals, although it is more common for people to suffer the ailments associated with this type of flu. Wild birds commonly act as the hosts for this flu virus.
Type A flu virus is constantly changing and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics. The influenza A2 virus is spread by people who are already infected. The most common flu hot spots are those surfaces that an infected person has touched and rooms where they have been recently, especially areas where they have been sneezing.
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Flu Strains Explained And How The Vaccine Works
As we approach flu season, UAB Medicine already is getting questions about the different strains of the flu virus and the vaccine itself. With expert input from Rachael Lee, MD, assistant professor in the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases, we explain the differences in flu strains, including how many strains exist and what the flu shot will cover this year. We also answer some common questions, such as whether the flu shot for one strain reduces the risk of contracting another strain and whether flu vaccines are reissued after the virus mutates during the course of the season.
Understanding Flu Types
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there are four types of flu viruses: influenza A, B, C, and D. The seasonal flu viruses that humans face every winter season in the United States are caused by human influenza A. Influenza A viruses are categorized as either the hemagglutinin subtype or the neuraminidase subtype based on the proteins involved, and there are 18 distinct subtypes of hemagglutinin and 11 distinct subtypes of neuraminidase. Influenza A is the primary cause of flu epidemics, and they constantly change and are difficult to predict.
This Years Flu Shot
Dr. Lee says this years flu vaccine covers four strains of the flu that are recommended by the World Health Organization. The strains recommended for vaccination for the 2020-2021 flu season in the northern hemisphere are:
Flu Shot Effectiveness
Benefits of the Vaccine
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.
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Why Was Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine Developed
For many years, flu vaccines were designed to protect against three different flu viruses: an influenza A virus, an influenza A virus and one influenza B virus, even though there are two different lineages of B viruses that circulate during most seasons. Adding a B virus from the second lineage was done to give broader protection against circulating flu viruses.
Special Consideration Regarding Egg Allergy
People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are available: quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
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What Is The Flu
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness thats caused by the influenza virus. There are two main types of influenza virus: type A and type B. These main types are further subdivided into multiple subtypes and strains, including the well-known H1N1 strain. The effect each of these strains may have on you depends on your age and overall health.
If you have the flu, symptoms may include:
In more extreme cases, you may experience vomiting and diarrhea. Although symptoms tend to emerge suddenly, you may find yourself experiencing a milder version in the early stages of the virus. Its also important to note that you may be a carrier for the virus even if you arent experiencing any symptoms yourself.
Why Should I Get Vaccinated
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine, and gives the best protection against flu. Its offered every year for free by the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although theres still a chance you might get flu after having the vaccine. If you do get flu after vaccination, its likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
Flu can be serious and life-threatening, so getting vaccinated is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself.
The vaccine takes around 10 days to work and should help protect you during this years flu season. You have to get immunised every year because flu viruses change constantly and your immunity reduces over time.
The flu vaccine cant give you flu, but it can stop you catching it.
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