Who Should Get A Flu Vaccine This Season
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza. A full listing of people at Higher Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications is available.
Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people.
- There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months old and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older.
- Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant people who are 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.
There are many vaccine options to choose from. CDC does not recommend any one flu vaccine over another. 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 flu vaccine to get, talk to your doctor or other health care professional. More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated.
Where To Get The Influenza Vaccine
In Victoria the most common way people access the flu vaccine is from their doctor or a pharmacist immuniser . Some local council immunisation services also provide the flu vaccine as do some hospitals, maternity services and community health services.
Workplaces seeking to reduce the impact of flu infection on employees may also provide flu vaccination programs for their staff.
How Soon Is Too Soon To Get A Flu Shot
It is possible, though, to get the flu vaccine too early. You may hear in the late summer, for instance, that your local pharmacy has started offering flu shots. Resist the urge to get one immediately. By waiting until September or October you’ll make sure you benefit from all the protection a flu vaccine can offer, when you may need it most.
The general consensus, according to the CDC and infectious diseases experts, is that you should generally not get vaccinated earlier than September, because the protection against the flu virus wanes over time. The flu shot is most effective in the first three months after a vaccination, but people still have protection for at least six months after the shot.
The sweet spot for getting vaccinatedmid-September to Octoberis to make sure that the shot protects for as much of the active flu season as possible. This advice is especially important for adults age 65 and older, since they’re more at risk if their protection decreases too much before flu activity has ended for the season.
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Who Should Not Receive A Flu Shot:
Most people should be vaccinated for influenza each year, But some people should not be vaccinated, or should not receive some types of influenza vaccines, depending upon things such as their age, health and whether they have certain allergies.
Information about who cannot get a flu vaccine and who should talk to their doctor before getting a flu vaccine is available at Who Should & Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated.
Factors In Flu Shot Effectiveness
Influenza viruses are constantly changing and evolving rapidly. Circulating influenza viruses can mutate from one season to the next.
Researchers need to select the specific influenza viruses to include in the vaccine many months before flu season begins. This means whats in the vaccine may not always match whats actually circulating during flu season. This can decrease the effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine.
Age can also play a role in vaccine efficacy because your immune system tends to become weaker as you age. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a high-dose flu vaccine for people 65 and older.
The higher dose is aimed at providing a better immune response and therefore better protection within this age group. for those over 65 with the high-dose vaccine.
The CDC also recommends that some children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years receive two doses of the influenza vaccine during the first season in which theyre vaccinated in order to have sufficient protection.
Its still possible to get the flu after being vaccinated, but research has shown that the illness may be less severe and that people who receive a flu shot may be less likely to be admitted to the hospital if they get the flu.
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Myth #: Flu Shots Dont Work
Fact: The flu vaccine can significantly reduce your risk of catching the flu.
In previous years, when the vaccine matched circulating strains, the CDC reports that getting vaccinated reduced the chance of catching the flu by up to 60%.
Flu vaccination also significantly reduces the risk of flu-related hospitalization for the elderly, working age adults, and especially among children. A 2014 study showed that the flu vaccine reduced childrens risks of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admissions by 74%. And the vaccine could even be a life-saver a 2017 study showed that flu vaccinations reduce a childs risks of dying from the flu.
Flu shots are important for pregnant women, too. Since pregnancy affects your immune system, it can make you more susceptible to the flu. Getting a flu shot while youre pregnant is safe for both mom and baby. Plus, it can help protect the baby after theyre born until they can have their first flu shot.
When more people choose to vaccinate, doctors and CDC researchers are better equipped to pinpoint flu strains, keep rates of hospitalization down, and keep you and your family protected. Also, the science of vaccinations improves every year, and so do your odds of staying healthy with a flu shot.
What This Means For Your Annual Flu Shot
Considering all the influenza viruss tricks for infecting humans, its remarkable weve created a vaccine that works at all. And in fact, the vaccine prevents thousands of deaths every year. Most years, the vaccine cuts your chance of catching the flu in half, but its hard to get much better odds than that from it.
Our vaccine process is sort of always one step behind because of this long production process and trying to update the vaccine to whats circulating, Dr. Hensley said. The World Health Organization meets twice a year, once for the Southern Hemisphere and once for the Northern Hemisphere, to examine global flu surveillance and recommend the flu strains they expect will cause the most illness.
This puts a huge burden on manufacturers, Dr. Karron said. In the Northern Hemisphere, they learn the W.H.O. recommendations in February and have only about six months to make vaccines. They sell it very cheaply, Dr. Karron said, about $10 to 20 a dose, and have to throw away anything unsold at the end of the season. The flu vaccine is not a blockbuster moneymaker, she said.
Understanding the flu viruss trickery explains some of the vaccines quirks. Why do some vaccine strains partly protect against nonvaccine strains? The HA and NA may look similar enough to the vaccine strain that antibodies attack it anyway.
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Why Should I Get The Flu Vaccine
Nationally, influenza vaccination prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths due to influenza during the 2019-2020 season. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.
It is especially important to get the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Flu vaccination reduces the prevalence and severity of illness caused by flu, reducing symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19
- It will reduce the overall burden of respiratory illness that will protect people at higher risk for severe illness of both flu and COVID-19
- The reduction of outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions from flu vaccination will alleviate stress on the health care system
For additional information, please see the CDC page: This Season a Flu Vaccine is More Important than Ever!
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.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.
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Whos Most At Risk Of Getting The Flu
Typically, children and older people are most at risk of getting sick with influenza. The best way to protect babies who are too young to be vaccinated is to make sure people around them are vaccinated. Occasionally, a flu virus will circulate that disproportionately affects young and middle-age adults.
You also can reduce the spread of the flu and its effects by taking such practical measures as washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when youre sick.
The FDA has approved numerous vaccines for the prevention of influenza. But if you do get the flu, there are FDA-approved antiviral drugs, available by prescription, to treat your illness. There are several FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by the CDC for use against circulating influenza viruses. These drugs work best if started soon after the onset of symptoms .
Myth #: Catching The Flu Builds Your Immunity More Than The Vaccine
Fact: Having heard that the flu shot doesnt always work, some are led to believe that getting the flu will boost your immunity more than the flu shot.
Theres no truth to this claim. And sitting around waiting for the flu to strike is certainly not a good idea.
The flu can get serious fast, especially in children and older adults. But it also carries risks of complications for healthy people. Getting vaccinated is much safer, and comes with the same immunity benefits. And no, the flu shot doesnt weaken your immune system. Rather, its the opposite. The immune response the flu shot triggers helps get your body ready if youre exposed to the active virus.
While protecting you, the flu shot also protects loved ones around you from getting sick. Once your body builds immunity which takes two weeks you cant pass flu germs to anyone else. Now thats something you can feel good about.
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Why Do I Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year
A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a persons immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.
Boosters May Provide Longer
Boosters are designed to do exactly that to boost your bodys initial response to a vaccine and provide more protection against a particular pathogen. And its not that unusual for a vaccine aimed at preventing a viral illness to require boosters, Dr. Bernard Camins, medical director for infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System, told TODAY, pointing to the two-dose childhood measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. In this situation, were finding out that even with the COVID-19 vaccines, you do need boosters, he said.
Researchers are looking at two major factors that will determine whether or not we’ll eventually need more boosters. First, does the protection provided by the vaccines wane over time? And second, are the current COVID-19 vaccines still relatively well matched to the version of the virus thats circulating right now?
If the protection dissipates over time, as appeared to be the case with the initial two-shot doses, then we might eventually need another round of boosters to amp up our immune responses.
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Why Should People Get Vaccinated Against Flu
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and flu can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can result in more serious illness. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.
Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza
Yearly influenza vaccination is recommended for people aged 6 months and over. Anyone who wants to protect themselves against influenza can talk to their immunisation provider about getting vaccinated.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook includes more information about specific groups who should get vaccinated against influenza.
The following people are more at risk of complications from influenza and are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- People aged 65 years or over.
- People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease:
- cardiac disease
- haematological disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
Children under nine years receiving their influenza vaccination for the first time require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month.
In some states and territories, influenza vaccines may also be provided for free to other people not listed above. Speak to your immunisation provider or contact your state or territory Department of Health to find out.
People who are not eligible for a free vaccine can purchase the vaccine from their immunisation provider.
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Are You Still Covered From Last Year
Maggie ONeill is a health writer and reporter based in New York who specializes in covering medical research and emerging wellness trends, with a focus on cancer and addiction. Prior to her time at Health, her work appeared in the Observer, Good Housekeeping, CNN, and Vice. She was a fellow of the Association of Health Care Journalists 2020 class on Womens Health Journalism and 2021 class on Cancer Reporting. In her spare time, she likes meditating, watching TikToks, and playing fetch with her dog, Finnegan.
If you find yourself with those typical flu-like symptomsfever, chills, nasal congestion, the worksyou might start worrying that you’ve come down with the flu .
But wait…didn’t you get the flu shot last year? And if that’s the case, how long does a flu shot last, exactlyand are you still covered? To help you figure things out, Health spoke with a few infectious disease experts to find out how long you’re covered with a flu shot, and what that means for when you should get your next one.
The Flu Vaccine Is Safe
To ensure that the flu vaccine is safe, effective, and of high quality, the FDA prepares and provides reagents to manufacturers that they need to make their vaccine and to verify its identity and potency. The FDA also inspects manufacturing facilities regularly and evaluates each manufacturers vaccine annually before it can be approved.
The FDAs oversight doesnt end there. After manufacturers have distributed their vaccines for use by the public, the FDA and CDC work together to routinely evaluate reports of adverse events following vaccination submitted by vaccine manufacturers, health care providers and vaccine recipients to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System .
Additional efforts are in place to monitor vaccine safety. The FDA partners with private organizations that collect health care data and other federal agencies to further evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the influenza vaccines and other vaccines that the FDA has approved or authorized for emergency use.
The Biologics Effectiveness and Safety Initiative is one of the programs the FDA utilizes to assess vaccine safety and effectiveness in real-world conditions, reflecting patient care and the real-world use of the influenza vaccine and other vaccines in the U.S. In addition, the CDC maintains the Vaccine Safety Datalink program, which evaluates the vaccines safety similar to the BEST Initiative. VSD receives its data from nine integrated health care organizations in the U.S.
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Safety And Side Effects
The inactivated flu vaccine does not contain the live virus and cannot cause flu. Flu vaccines have a very good safety record. The most commonly reported side effects of flu vaccines are:
- pain, swelling, bruising, hardness or redness at the injection site
- slightly raised temperature
- feeling generally unwell
A higher rate of these common side effects has been reported with Fluad, an adjuvanted trivalent vaccine which was recommended for people aged 65 and over in previous years. This year, a quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine which also uses an adjuvant is being offered to people aged over 65. Side effects usually last 1-3 days.
There are several different makes of flu vaccine available each year. For more information on side effects, ask for the Patient Information Leaflet for the vaccine you are offered. Additional information about vaccine side effects, anaphylaxis and adverse reactions can be found here.