Why The Flu Vaccine Is Reformulated Every Year
Welcome to National Influenza Vaccination Week, established in 2005 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote vaccination awareness to the general public. In that spirit, Dr. Sebeen Razzaq-Ahmed and the team here at East Meadow Medical P.C. remind you to get your annual flu vaccine. You may be one of the many people we hear ask why they need to get vaccinated each year. Well, were here to answer that for you!
Its no secret that influenza, commonly called the flu, is inconvenient, nasty, and downright deadly. The 2017-2018 flu season was among the worst on record, afflicting and killing more Americans about 80,000 than in any season dating back more than three decades. Because the flu is so common, not to mention so deadly, we always recommend that anyone whos able to gets an updated vaccine each year.
Can You Still Get The Flu Following A Flu Shot
Yes. It is still possible to get the flu even though you got the flu vaccine first. This can be for a variety of reasons. For one, the vaccine’s effectiveness varies based on a person’s age and health status. Another reason is that the vaccine is only fully effective two weeks after vaccination, when your body has had time to develop immunity.
Another issue is that a new vaccine is developed every year. Every year, public health officials predict which flu strains will circulate. They manufacture the yearly vaccine to best protect against the anticipated strains. However, the strains that circulate do not always match the strains accounted for in the vaccine.
Vaccine effectiveness is highest when the strains in the vaccination match closely with the strains that are causing illness. But even in years when the flu vaccine is a poor match, vaccination stimulates the production of antibodies. This confers some protection against the circulating strains via a process called cross-protection. These antibodies will be enough to protect some people from getting the flu and will help protect others against dangerous complications of the flu.
Even if you do get sick after vaccination, several studies show that you are likely to get less sick than you normally would. Those vaccinated experience fewer hospitalizations from illness, and those who are hospitalized have shorter stays on average.
Why Do Some People Not Feel Well After Getting A Flu Shot
Flu vaccine side effects are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days. Some side effects that may occur from a flu shot include soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given, headache , fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue. The flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting.
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Why Should I Get A Flu Vaccine
The flu is highly contagious, spreading when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets containing the influenza virus also settle onto surfaces, such as telephones and door knobs, and can then pass from hands to the nose, mouth or eyes. People with influenza can be infectious to others from 24 hours before they display symptoms until a week after the start of symptoms.
Its recommended that all Australians over six months of age get a flu vaccine each year.
They should have the vaccine for two reasons:
- To stop themselves from getting ill and
- To limit the spread of the virus to others in the community, particularly those most vulnerable to infection.
In Australia, the vaccine is provided for free for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults, and people with certain medical conditions which increase the risk of complications from influenza such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes.
Its important to get a flu shot every year as the circulating virus strains change. Receiving the vaccine from April allows protection from the flu to develop well ahead of the peak transmission period, which usually falls around July and August.
Why Is The Flu Vaccine Recommended
While the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it still greatly reduces a person’s chances of catching the flu, which can be very serious. It also can make symptoms less severe if someone does still get the flu after immunization.
Even if you or your kids got the flu vaccine last year, that won’t protect you this year, because flu viruses change. That’s why the vaccine is updated each year to include the most current types of the virus.
Sometimes the same types are included in the vaccine one year after the next. Even then, it’s still important to get the yearly flu vaccine because the body’s immunity against the influenza virus declines over time.
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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 .
The Claim: The Flu Is Still Around Despite A Vaccine
A claims the flu vaccine has been ineffective in eradicating the virus, despite existing for nearly eight decades.
“We’ve had a flu vaccine for 78 years,” the post reads. “We still have the flu.”
A black-and-white photo accompanying the text is of a child receiving one of the first free polio vaccines in St. Louis in April 1955, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The image was posted by GZA, a rapper and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
GZA directed USA TODAY to a timeline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the flu from 1930 until today and said he was focused on “the information in the post” rather than the associated photograph of the polio vaccine.
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When To Get The Flu Shot
Flu season typically runs from late fall to early spring.
Flu shots are now available for all Ontarians. You should get a flu shot as soon as possible because it takes two weeks to take effect.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization now recommends that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacy to learn more.
Have There Been Any Recent Updates To The Way Flu Vaccines Are Developed
Tran: Before the pandemic began, the government already was trying to develop a universal flu vaccine that would work on many different influenza strains. It’s an exciting time in the development of vaccines. Because of the pandemic, scientists are finding new ways to develop vaccines more efficiently, which will help us in the future.
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Do I Need The Flu Vaccine If I Am Travelling
Whether or not you are at high risk for the complications of flu, you should consider getting a flu vaccination before travelling overseas because studies have shown that the flu is the most commonly contracted vaccine-preventable disease among international travellers.
- Flu outbreaks have been linked to travellers.
- Certain types of travel where large numbers of people are likely to be in close proximity, such as cruise ship voyages or events that include mass gatherings, are particularly high risk.
- In tropical countries, the flu can occur throughout the year, so vaccination is worthwhile regardless of the season.
- In temperate climates in the northern hemisphere, the flu is more common between the months of December and March.
What Is A Flu Vaccine
Influenza vaccines are vaccines that protect against the four influenza viruses that research indicates most common during the upcoming season. Most flu vaccines are flu shots given with a needle, usually in the arm, but there also is also a nasal spray flu vaccine.
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How Flu Vaccines Work
The flu vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that provide immune defense against illness. It takes the body about two weeks to generate antibodies after receiving the flu vaccine. This means that during the two weeks after your flu vaccine, your body remains vulnerable to infection.
Every year the seasonal flu vaccine is tailor-made to protect against the particular flu strains that are currently circulating. Trivalent flu vaccines protect against two types of influenza A and one type of influenza B. Quadrivalent vaccines protect against these three types plus an additional strain of influenza B.
How Is The Flu Shot Different From The Covid
Tran: They’re similar in that they both have the same goal of preventing severe illness and death, and they both teach your immune system to recognize and attack a virus. But the two vaccines are very different.
The COVID-19 vaccine targets one version of the coronavirus that causes that disease, whereas the flu vaccine always targets multiple influenza viruses. They are also different types of vaccines produced in different ways. The flu shots are either egg-based vaccines or cell-based vaccines, or they’re made using recombinant technology. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use messenger RNA to teach your cells how to make the protein that your immune system will target. And the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a harmless virus that teaches your body’s cells to make that target protein.
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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.
What Is The Flu Vaccine
The influenza vaccine is used to prevent infection caused by the influenza virus. The flu can cause serious illness, especially in young children, older adults and people with chronic health problems, but anyone can become seriously ill from the flu virus. Even if you are not feeling sick, you could still be infected with the flu virus and pass it on to others. Read more about the flu.Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and reduce the seriousness of illness if you become infected. It will greatly improve your chances of not getting the flu, but it does not give 100% protection.
Being vaccinated causes your body to produce antibodies against the flu virus. This means your body can respond faster and more effectively to the flu. By first coming across a non-infectious version of the virus in the vaccine, it learns to recognise it. When it comes across it again, your body can react much faster and in a more effective way.
Even if you get the flu after being vaccinated, you usually get a mild form of it and recover faster, and are less likely to have serious complications.
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Which Vaccines Are Used
This year, the Adjuvanted Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine is being offered to people aged 65 or over. This vaccine contains a substance, known as an adjuvant, to help to stimulate the immune system and create a better response.
This vaccine has been widely used in many other countries and has been shown to offer better and longer-lasting protection in older people than flu vaccines without an adjuvant.
Northern Hemisphere Influenza Season
The composition of trivalent virus vaccines for use in the 2017â2018 Northern Hemisphere influenza season recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on August 25, 2017, was:
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 pdm09âlike virus
- an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 -like virus
- a B/Brisbane/60/2008âlike virus
In addition to these components, quadrivalent vaccines will also include a B/Phuket/3073/2013âlike virus .
In California, some emergency systems were strained by a spike in H3N2 flu cases. In addition, some areas experienced local shortages of oseltamivir. The severity of the flu season seemed somewhat comparable to the 2009â10 swine flu outbreak. A February 2018 CDC interim report estimated the vaccine effectiveness to be 25% against H3N2, 67% against H1N1, and 42% against influenza B.
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How Can I Prevent Getting Sick With The Flu Or Covid
People with chronic kidney disease at any stage and those who have a weakened immune system from a kidney transplant should understand they are at increased risk of severe illness from both COVID-19 and the flu. These individuals need to take precautions such as vaccinations and other measures to help prevent infection.
What Is The Cell
The production of influenza vaccines traditionally involves hens eggs. However, there is a different method for cell-based influenza vaccines such as Flucelvax Quad, the only cell-based flu vaccine approved for use in Australia. Its approved for use in people aged 9 years and older but has not been added to the National Immunisation Program schedule.
Studies show that cell-based vaccines have a similar efficacy and safety profile to standard flu vaccines. Normally, neither type is recommended over the other.
However, standard flu vaccines are preferred for use in pregnancy because a large body of evidence supports their safety for pregnant women. The safety of cell-based flu vaccines during pregnancy hasnt been assessed.
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How Is The Flu Shot Made
Tran: Vaccine developers use three different types of processes to make flu shots.
Currently, most influenza vaccines are made using an egg-based process. Manufacturers use a fertilized chicken egg to grow whichever four strains of the virus the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides will be dominant during the upcoming flu season. Manufacturers incubate the egg, allowing the virus to replicate, harvest the virus and then deactivate or weaken it before adding it to a mass-produced injection. A second method uses an animal cell instead of egg cells.
The third process isolates the genes that have the instructions for making the target protein that your body’s immune system must identify. Those genes are combined with a different virus that infects invertebrates, such as worms and helps pass the genetic instructions to a host cell. These proteins are grown in bulk, purified and become so-called recombinant vaccines.
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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How Well Does The Flu Vaccine Work
The flu vaccine is not 100% effective. However, on average it halves the number of people who get the flu. This reduces the amount of flu circulating in the community, puts less pressure on healthcare services and leads to fewer admissions to hospital.
Those who respond least well to the flu vaccine are those who are at most risk of complications from the flu: very young children, older adults and people with long-term health conditions. This is why its a good idea for everyone else to get the flu vaccination its a way to help the more vulnerable members of your community.
Dr Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre explains more about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
Delivery Of The Flu Shot In 2021
Not all flu shots are the same. Some arent even shots. Here are your 2021 flu vaccine options:
Nasal Spray: The nasal spray vaccine is the only kind to include a live attenuated influenza vaccine. Although it cant give you the flu, it does have a higher likelihood of inducing flu-like symptoms. This vaccine does not contain thimerosal or other preservatives. Its available only for patients aged 2 to 49.
For: People who cant stand the needle or jet spray or who want to avoid preservatives.
Inactivated shots are usually given with a needle, but Afluria Quadrivalent can be given to adults with a jet injector, which is basically a high-powered spray that penetrates the skin.
For: Needles can be used for everyone aged 6 months and older. The jet spray is approved for adults aged 18 to 64.
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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
Variation On The Conventional
With the well-accepted limitations and deficiencies in the current influenza vaccine system, substantial resources have been spent trying to improve it. The improvements that are most advanced, many of which are already in use, are those that contribute incremental, but important, advances to the current TIV and LAIV platforms.
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