The Flu Shot Is Only Partially Effective So What’s The Point
JG: While the CDC estimates that the 2017-18 flu vaccine was about 40% effective, this number can be misleading.
It only measures your risk of being diagnosed with the flu, and it does not consider how the vaccine reduces the severity of symptoms.
Data shows that the flu shot not only reduces your risk of getting the flu, but can also significantly reduce how sick you get. Overall, people who get the flu shot but still get the flu have shorter symptoms and are much less likely to be hospitalized or suffer serious complications.
Who Is At Risk For Getting The Flu
Anybody can contract the flu if they are exposed to the virus, but certain populations are more likely to get sick with the flu. Adults over 65 years of age, children younger than 2 years of age, people with asthma, COPD, obesity, heart disease, or a weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of serious complications and should take measures like getting the flu vaccine to prevent getting sick.
Is It Safe To Receive Doses Of The Flu And Covid
Yes — and you can even get them on the same day if you havent yet been vaccinated against COVID-19. Receiving both does not change the effectiveness of either vaccine or cause more side effects. Both vaccines can be given during the same appointment and current Duke Health patients can schedule a flu or COVID-19 vaccination through Duke MyChart. If youre not a current patient, you can still use Duke Healths scheduling system to set a time to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to a patient and if you have medical insurance, a flu vaccine is also typically free.
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I Never Get The Flu So Why Do I Need A Flu Shot
Brian S. Koll, MD
Recently retired as Executive Medical Director for Infection Prevention and Control, Mount Sinai Health System
The seasonal flu is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract. When people have the flu, some are only mildly affected, yet others may miss work, be hospitalized, or even die due to complications. Influenza vaccine, though not perfect, is the best way to prevent flu. But if you have always avoided vaccination and have never had the flu, you may wonder, Why do I need a flu shot? Here are five good reasons, along with answers to some common questions about flu vaccine.
1. Your luck may run out. People who have never had the flu are very fortunate. But flu viruses mutate every year, so even if you did not get last seasons virus, you may still succumb to this seasons.
2. The symptoms feel awful. After you are exposed to an influenza virus, it takes about two days to develop symptoms, which, unlike those of a cold, come on suddenly. Flu symptoms include high fever, cough, and severe muscle aches and pains, which usually last three to five days. After these symptoms resolve, you may still feel extremely weak, and it usually takes another week or two to build up your strength.
The vaccine is not always effective, but if you do get the flu despite being vaccinated, it will still offer some protection, making your disease less severe.
Who should be vaccinated?
Who should not be vaccinated?
Recovering Covid Patients May Only Need 1 Shot
Researchers conclude that vaccination offers much more robust and long lasting COVID-19 protection than natural immunity achieved via infection and recovery. Vaccinated study participants displayed much higher levels of neutralizing antibodies. Moreover, antibodies gained via vaccination are also more effective at binding with the virus, which prevents it from infecting cells.
Its worth noting that this research also concludes most individuals who had already recovered from COVID-19 only needed a single jab of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to achieve full immunity. Researchers stress, though, that most doesnt mean all. Some recovered individuals will indeed require both shots and there is no way to tell who does or who doesnt. With all that in mind, Prof. Ross advises everyone to get both shots.
It doesnt hurt you to get the second one, the researcher states.
These findings are part of a larger multi-year surveillance program encompassing over 3,100 people between the ages of 18 and 90 years-old. Each person continually provides blood and saliva samples on a monthly basis in order to track immune responses to vaccination or natural infection.
Do You Really Need A Flu Shot
Its that time of year again.
Perhaps you recently went into a pharmacy or grocery store, spotted the sign reminding you to get your flu shot and said to yourself, Nah. I dont need it.
But if youre in one of several high-risk groups, maybe an ounce of prevention . . . well, you know the rest.
In the following interview, WLRN Health Reporter Sammy Mack clears up some popular misconceptions about the flu shot. If after hearing it you are still doubting, then read our handy FAQ about the flu shot.
FLU SHOT FAQ
What IS influenza ?
The flu is a virus. And there are a bunch of different strains and subtypes of it. Every year across the world there are different strains that circulate on the continents so a few times each year, the World Health Organization gets together and tries to predict what’s going to be the strain that hits where and when.
And it can be deadly if a severe infection takes hold. Every year in the United States, depending on the strain, flu kills between 3,000 and 50,000 people.
Who should get a flu shot?
People at high-risk for severe illness from flu include young children six months and older pregnant women people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions like heart disease and asthma and people over the age of 65.
When is the best time to get a flu shot?
Is there anyone who should NOT be inoculated against the flu?
Whats the bottom line on flu shots?
So How Will The Coronavirus That Is Causing The Covid Pandemic Influence The Flu Season This Year
The every day recommendations to reduce your risk of getting sick from the flu likely sound familiar, and that is because they are similar to the precautions suggested for the COVID pandemic. Both COVID-19 and the influenza virus are spread in the same way, so it is possible that this year may see less of the flu, since mask precautions are in place and people are taking many additional measures to stay safe. However, we are simply not sure at this time what kind of an effect the current COVID precautions will have on the incidence of the flu during this winter, so it is still important to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself.
It is also important to prevent the flu because an infection with both the influenza virus and the coronavirus could be detrimental to the respiratory tract and lead to serious complications and have long-term consequences to a persons health. Having two respiratory infections at the same time may lead to an increase in mortality and will raise questions about the correct way to medically treat these patients. For this reason, it is more important than ever to get the flu vaccine to prevent the possibility of contracting both infections at the same time.
For more information about how to protect yourself from both the flu and the coronavirus, contact your healthcare provider or speak to your local pharmacist.
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Flu Vaccine For People With Long
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you’re at risk of serious problems if you get flu.
Misconceptions About Stomach Flu
Is the stomach flu really flu?
No. Many people use the term stomach flu to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or sick to your stomach can sometimes be related to flu more commonly in children than adults these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza. Flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
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Does The Flu Vaccine Interfere With The Covid
No, says both Rivard and Dr. Rehm. In fact, if you havent received a COVID-19 vaccination yet or are receiving a third dose, you can receive it at the same time as your flu vaccine.
All available COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine, says Rivard. If someone is coming in for their flu shot and theyre eligible for COVID-19 vaccine but havent received it yet, we can offer that.
If youre receiving one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines , which require two doses, you can receive the flu vaccine alongside either the first or second dose. Both the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend co-administering almost any two vaccines together, Rivard adds.
She adds that there are very few instances in which certain vaccines cant be administered at the same time, noting that children often receive multiple vaccines during one visit to a pediatrician.
And theres no concern about overloading our immune systems with multiple vaccines, notes Dr. Rehm. Were exposed to things that stimulate our immune system all the time, she says. Our immune system is constantly responding to various exposures even if you dont realize it.
When Should I Be Vaccinated
You should get a flu vaccine before viruses begin spreading in your community because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. CDC recommends that everyone should get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
However, if you have not received your vaccination before October, getting vaccinated later in the season is still beneficial, even into January or later.
Children who need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected should be vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
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Will I Always Need To Get The Flu Shot Every Year
We hope not. Research is ongoing to create a universal flu shot. This universal flu vaccine would, in theory, help your body create antibodies against the part of the flu virus that does not change every year. Right now, yearly vaccines target those proteins on the surface of the flu vaccine that mutate throughout the flu season. In theory, this new universal vaccine would protect you against current strains of the flu virus as well as future mutations of the flu virus.
Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is a good idea for all families. It does not cause the flu and it helps keep kids and parents from getting sick. Getting the flu is worse than having a cold and can make a person sick for a week or more.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated before the start of each flu season, with very few exceptions. Some people are more likely to get health problems from the flu, such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and people with medical conditions like asthma or diabetes. Getting a flu vaccine is especially important for them and for those who live with them.
Babies younger than 6 months can’t get the vaccine. But they will be protected if their parents, other caregivers, and older kids in the household get it. This is important because infants who get the flu are more likely to have serious problems than older kids.
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
Can I Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made with either a killed flu virus and are therefore not infectious, or with proteins from a flu virus instead of a flu vaccine virus. Nasal spray flu vaccine is made with weakened live flu viruses, and also cannot cause flu illness.
Some people may get mild and short-lasting symptoms, such as a low-grade fever or muscle-aches, but this is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine. It is not the flu.
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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.
Do I Really Need The Flu Shot And Other Questions To Address This Flu Season
Flu viruses are common during fall and winter. In North America, the flu season usually lasts from October through February but can extend all the way through May. Flu activity usually peaks December through February.
Pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare professionals have the responsibility to educate their patients to help prevent and treat the flu. With peak flu season upon us, we wanted to share common questions and challenges that healthcare professionals need to address.
Seriously Get A Flu Shot
One reason its so important to get your annual flu shot , according to Dr. Rehm: protecting yourself is a lot easier than treating these illnesses.
There are some treatments available for the flu and treatments we have for COVID-19 are evolving, she says. But to avoid the disease altogether or to only have a mild case because youve been vaccinated is much better than trying to treat it. Prevention is best.
Why Does My Child Need A Flu Shot
Influenza can be much worse than a bad cold. Some babies and children who have influenza get so sick they cant go to childcare or preschool for two weeks or more. Every year in Australia, hundreds of children get so unwell from influenza they need to be treated in hospital. Most of them are babies and children under five years.
An influenza vaccine is the best way to protect your child from serious influenza. Influenza vaccines give better protection in some years than others. This is because the types of influenza viruses making people sick from year to year can change, and the vaccines may have to be updated.
Before the influenza season, experts gather information from around the world to work out which influenza viruses are most likely to circulate. They often get it right, but sometimes it can be hard to predict. Experts use the best information available at the time.
Influenza vaccines give your child good protection, even if they arent always perfect. By getting an influenza vaccine, your child will be less likely to get influenza, and less likely to get the serious conditions that influenza can cause, like severe lung infections or swelling in the brain .
Its safe for children with egg allergies to get influenza vaccines.3 This is because the amount of egg in influenza vaccines is tiny . Many years ago, influenza vaccines used to contain more egg protein, but the way the vaccines are manufactured is much better now.
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