When To Get The Influenza Vaccine
New season influenza vaccines under the NIP are expected to be available from April. Timing may be different for your local area. Check with your immunisation provider to find out when they will have the vaccine available and when you will be able to book in to have the vaccine.
Annual influenza vaccine should occur anytime from April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September. The highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination.
However, it is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate in the community all year round.
Pregnant women should receive the vaccine at any stage during pregnancy.
Influenza vaccines can be given on the same day with a COVID-19 vaccine.
Timing Of Influenza Vaccination
Everyone should get an annual influenza vaccine anytime from mid-April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September.
However, its never too late to be vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.
Pregnant women should receive the vaccine at any stage during pregnancy.
The Flu Shot And Covid
An important update regarding timing between receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccines for all Victorians including those most vulnerable in our community.
The original recommended timing between receipt of the 2 vaccines was a preferred minimum interval of 2 weeks .
Based on the latest medical advice the preferred minimum interval between vaccinations for COVID-19 and the flu is now 7 days.
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Who Should Get Vaccinated
Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications.
Vaccination does more than just protect an individual: sufficient vaccination levels across the community can protect members of the community who would otherwise be left vulnerable.
The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for all Australians aged six months and over.
Its available for free to the population groups most as risk of severe disease from influenza:
- people aged 65 years or over
- children aged six months to under five years
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over
- people aged six months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease.
For over-65s, adjuvanted influenza vaccines which include an immune-stimulant to encourage a stronger immune response are recommended over standard influenza vaccine.
Read more:High-dose, immune-boosting or four-strain? A guide to flu vaccines for over-65s
Getting A Flu Shot Every Year More May Not Be Better
If youve been diligent about getting your flu shot every year, you may not want to read this. But a growing body of evidence indicates that more may not always be better.
The evidence, which is confounding some researchers, suggests that getting flu shots repeatedly can gradually reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines under some circumstances.
That finding is worrying public health officials in the US, who have been urging everyone to get a flu shot each year and who still believe an annual vaccination is better than skipping the vaccines altogether.
Dr. Edward Belongia is among the scientists who have seen the picture coming into focus. He and some colleagues at Wisconsins reported recently that children who had been vaccinated annually over a number of years were more likely to contract the flu than kids who were only vaccinated in the season in which they were studied.
The vaccine was significantly more effective if they had not been vaccinated in the previous five years, Belongia, an epidemiologist, recounted in a recent interview with STAT.
Vaccines work by exposing the immune system to a part of a disease agent in the case of influenza, to two proteins on the exterior of the viruses that has been rendered harmless. The vaccines tell the immune system to be ready to mount an offensive if it encounters the specified invaders.
The immune system then produces stores of protective ammunition antibodies it can use to fight off infection.
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Can I Get The Influenza Vaccine And Covid
You can get the Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine but not on the same day. You should wait at least 7 days between receiving a dose of COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine.
You arent required to have the vaccines in any particular order. The order will likely depend on vaccine availability, so you may receive whichever vaccine you have access to first.
If youre having the Pfizer vaccine, this means you may be able to get a flu vaccination in between the 2 doses, if appropriate.
In special cases, your healthcare provider may consider shortening the time period between the different vaccines or they may suggest you receive the vaccines on the same day. This will only be considered if:
- theres a high risk that youll be exposed to one of the diseases
- its highly likely that the opportunity of receiving either vaccine will be missed
If this is suggested, youll be counselled about any possible adverse events from each vaccine. Youll be advised to report any adverse events.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more advice on how to schedule vaccinations.
Theres Still Time To Get Vaccinated
Its not too late, Moore said about the vaccine, noting that we still dont know for sure whats going to happen next.
If flu A continues to get worse, as predicted, the flu shot will protect you through the rest of the season.
And even though the vaccine isnt a perfect match to B strains, it can still help lessen the severity of the flu.
If youve been vaccinated, and even if there is a mismatch, you are likely to have a less severe infection when you get it, Schaffner said.
Remember: By getting immunized, youre not only protecting yourself, but others as well who may be more at risk for developing severe complications like the elderly, pregnant women, children under 2, and immunosuppressed people.
When we protect ourselves, we are really protecting those around us, Moore said.
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When Do They Start Working How Long Do They Last
Vaccines dont cause disease in the person. Rather, they prompt the bodys immune system to respond, much as it would have on its first reaction to the actual virus.
Read more:You can’t get influenza from a flu shot here’s how it works
Flu vaccines stimulate antibodies to develop in the body usually within two weeks following vaccination.
While flu vaccines offer the highest level of protection three for four months after vaccination, research suggests antibodies continue to protect against infection 8.5 months after vaccination and 11.8 months after natural infection.
So while antibodies decrease over time, they generally last longer than a typical influenza season.
Current recommendations are to get vaccinated from April, before the flu season, which generally occurs from June to September.
Misconceptions About Flu Vaccines
Can a flu vaccine give you flu?
No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated so that they will not cause illness.
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over the 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.
Is it better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine?
Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?
Why do some people not feel well after getting a seasonal flu vaccine?
- Carolyn Bridges et al. . Effectiveness and cost-benefit of influenza vaccination of healthy working adults: A randomized controlled trialexternal icon.
What about serious reactions to flu vaccine?
Can vaccinating someone twice provide added immunity?
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Why Is Influenza Vaccination Recommended In Pregnancy
Pregnant women are at greater risk of morbidity and mortality from influenza disease than non-pregnant women. They are more than twice as likely to be hospitalised with influenza disease as other people with influenza. Babies less than 6 months of age are at greatest risk of disease and death from influenza. Vaccinating pregnant women will also provide protection to babies for the first few months of life until they can be immunised against influenza from 6 months of age.
Annual Vaccination Is Recommended
Annual vaccination before the onset of each flu season is recommended. In most parts of Australia, this occurs from June to September.
Immunisation from April provides protection before the peak season. While the flu continues to circulate, it is never too late to vaccinate.
The flu vaccine cannot give you influenza because it does not contain live virus. Some people may still contract the flu because the vaccine may not always protect against all strains of the flu virus circulating in the community.
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Managing Side Effects After Immunisation
Common side effects following immunisation are usually mild and temporary . Specific treatment is not usually required. There are several treatment options that can reduce the side effects of the vaccine including:
- Drinking extra fluids and not overdressing if there is a fever.
- Although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, if pain and fever are present, paracetamol can be given check the label for the correct dose or speak with your pharmacist .
Groups Who Should Especially Get The Vaccine
The flu shot can protect you against the flu. Because of this, it can reduce your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. This can lead to serious complications. You should especially receive the flu vaccine this season if youre:
- at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
- capable of spreading the flu to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.
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How Effective Are Vaccines
Vaccine effectiveness varies depending on the outcome being measured, the age group affected , and the match between vaccine and circulating influenza strains.
Estimates of flu vaccine effectiveness is 40-60% in the United States and 30-60% in Australia. This means 30-60% of those vaccinated are less likely to become seriously ill or die from influenza.
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
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What Side Effects Can Occur After Getting A Flu Vaccine
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of bad case of flu.
A flu shot: The viruses in a flu shot are killed , so you cannot get flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may occur are:
Soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given
The nasal spray: The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include:
In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include:
If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually are mild and short-lived. A flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
Can I Get The Flu Vaccine If I Have An Egg Allergy
The influenza vaccine is typically grown in eggs. But the traces of egg protein that remain after the vaccine is made are so tiny that the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy says both adults and children with egg allergy can be safely vaccinated against the flu. The risk of anaphylaxis after vaccination is very low, estimated at 1.35 cases per 1 million doses.
It is rare for people with egg allergy to experience other side effects, such as hives, wheezing, vomiting or abdominal pain, after getting the flu shot. If you are concerned, ask your doctor if you, or your child, can be observed by staff for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine .
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Should We Have A Dose Of The Vaccine Early In The Season And A Second Dose Later In The Season
For healthy individuals, the recommendation is to receive one dose of influenza vaccine annually. Re-vaccination later in the same year is not routinely recommended but may benefit some individuals due to circumstances such as travel or pregnancy. The decision to recommend a second dose should take into account a persons medical risk factors, risk of disease exposure and the current circulating virus strains.
What Protection Does A Flu Vaccine Provide If I Do Get Sick With Flu
Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick. However, flu vaccination has been shown in some studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized adults with flu. Another study in 2018 showed that a vaccinated adult who was hospitalized with flu was 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than someone who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent 4 fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.
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Is It Ok To Get The Flu Vaccine More Than Once In The Same Flu Season
Studies have not shown there is any benefit for most adults getting more than one dose of vaccine in the same flu season. However, its recommended that some people get 2 doses of the flu vaccine in one season:
- children under 9 years old who have not ever been vaccinated against the flu
- people who are having flu vaccination for the first time after a stem cell transplant or organ transplant
- pregnant women, who may be vaccinated with the next seasons influenza vaccine if it becomes available in the latter part of their pregnancy, even if they had the previous seasons vaccine
- overseas travellers who are going to the northern hemisphere winter
Health Comment By Dr Ellie Cannon
A third of people eligible for vaccination still dont have one, says Dr Ellie Cannon
Flu vaccines are by no means perfect, but neither is any medical treatment. Doctors make recommendations based on the risks versus the benefits and in the case of the flu jab, the benefits undoubtedly outweigh the minimal risks.
For vulnerable people over-65s and those with chronic health conditions they can be lifesaving. And this year, the reformulated vaccine is expected to protect more older adults than ever.
Its a fact that a third of people eligible for vaccination still dont have one. Even though the jabs protection may not last as long as we would like, having a flu injection is far better than having nothing at all.
Older people are more at risk due to immunosenescence a process of age-related decline which chips away at our immune systems as we get older.
Some experts think this decline starts as early as our 40s, when more obvious signs of ageing show, such as greying hair. By our mid-60s, flu vaccines are much less effective than in somebody 30 years younger.
Over-65s will receive extra protection this winter because of a new type of turbo-jab. Launched this year, it is a new vaccine which protects against three or four strains of flu and also features a special ingredient, called an adjuvant. This bolsters the immune systems response so that it releases a greater number of infection-fighting antibodies.
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