How Effective Is The Seasonal Flu Shot
Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary. The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or match between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation. During years when the flu vaccine match is good, it is possible to measure substantial benefits from flu vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness and complications. However, the benefits of flu vaccination will still vary, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated , what flu viruses are circulating that season and, potentially, which type of flu vaccine was used. More information is available at Vaccine Effectiveness How well does the Flu Vaccine Work.
There are many reasons to get an influenza vaccine each year.
Below is a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination and selected scientific studies that support these benefits.
Who Should Have The Vaccine
In the 2022/23 flu season, the flu vaccine will be available for free to the following groups in England:
- All children aged 2 to 10 years on 31st Aug 2022
- Secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9 – any remaining vaccine will be offered to children in years 10 and 11, subject to vaccine availability
- Those aged 50-64 years
- Those in long-term residential care homes
- Frontline health and social care workers
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- Those aged 6 months to 65 years in at-risk groups including people with the following health conditions:
- Respiratory diseases, including asthma
- Heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease
- Neurological conditions including learning disability
- A severely weakened immune system , a missing spleen, sickle cell anaemia or coeliac disease
- Being seriously overweight
Your doctor may recommend the flu vaccine in other circumstances as well.
Note that the eligibility criteria for the 2022/23 season are different to those in the 2021/22 season, so some people who were eligible for the flu vaccine last year may not be eligible this year.
Babies under 6 months old are too young to receive a flu vaccine. This is because they have maternal antibodies passed on from their mother which prevent the vaccine from working so well. Flu vaccination is offered to all pregnant women in the UK . As well as protecting pregnant women themselves, this also helps to protect their newborn babies from flu.
Who Can Get Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine
All flu vaccines in the United States are quadrivalent. Different vaccines are approved for different age groups. Information on approved flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 flu season, and age indications for each vaccine are available in CDCs Table: U.S. Influenza Vaccine Products for the 2022-2023 Season.
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Messenger Rna Vaccinesalso Called Mrna Vaccines
Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades and this technology was used to make some of the COVID-19 vaccines. mRNA vaccines make proteins in order to trigger an immune response. mRNA vaccines have several benefits compared to other types of vaccines, including shorter manufacturing times and, because they do not contain a live virus, no risk of causing disease in the person getting vaccinated.
mRNA vaccines are used to protect against:
Flu Shots For Seniors
Sinead Morris, Ph.D., recently presented to the CDC’s ACIP: Recommending that enhanced seasonal influenza vaccines in adults aged 65 and older could have wide-ranging impacts on the influenza burden. And Lisa Grohskopf, Influenza Division, CDC, presented: Influenza Vaccines for Older Adults: GRADE Summary.
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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.
Antigenic Drift And Shift
Two key processes that influenza viruses evolve through are and . Antigenic drift is when an influenza virus’s antigens change due to the gradual accumulation of mutations in the antigen’s gene. This can occur in response to exerted by the host immune response. Antigenic drift is especially common for the HA protein, in which just a few amino acid changes in the head region can constitute antigenic drift. The result is the production of novel strains that can evade pre-existing antibody-mediated immunity. Antigenic drift occurs in all influenza species but is slower in B than A and slowest in C and D. Antigenic drift is a major cause of seasonal influenza, and requires that flu vaccines be updated annually. HA is the main component of inactivated vaccines, so surveillance monitors antigenic drift of this antigen among circulating strains. Antigenic evolution of influenza viruses of humans appears to be faster than influenza viruses in swine and equines. In wild birds, within-subtype antigenic variation appears to be limited but has been observed in poultry.
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How Effective Is The Nhs Flu Immunisation Programme
The flu vaccine works better in some years than others . Across all age groups including children, the flu vaccine prevented 15-52% of flu cases between 2015 – 2020 . Due to low levels of circulating influenza in the 2020-21 flu season, it has not been possible to determine vaccine effectiveness for this time period.
Protection from the flu virus varies for different age groups. In children aged 2-17, the flu vaccine prevented 66% of flu cases in 2016-17, 27% of flu cases in 2017-18, and 49% of flu cases in 2018-19. However, in the over 65 age group the inactivated flu vaccine worked less well than it did in other adults and children. In 2016-17, the data suggest that the inactivated flu vaccine did not work at all in people aged over 65, whilst in 2017-2018 it resulted in slightly better results in that age group. Due to the lower effectiveness of the inactivated flu vaccine in older people, a vaccine containing an adjuvant was introduced for the 2018-19 season. This is a substance that strengthens and lengthens the immune response to the vaccine and resulted in better prevention of flu in people aged 65 or over in flu seasons since 2018-19. The adjuvanted vaccine is still recommended for this age group in the 2022-23 season.
It is not understood why flu vaccines do not work so well in older adults. However, this reinforces the importance of vaccinating children and healthcare workers, both of whom can help to stop the spread of flu to older adults.
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.
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Who Should And Who Should Not Get A Flu Vaccine
Everyone 6 months and older in the United States should get an influenza vaccine every season with rare exception. CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has made this universal recommendation since the 2010-2011 flu season.
Vaccination to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. A full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk is available at People at Higher Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
Flu Shots And Pneumonia
In meta-analyses, influenza vaccination significantly reduces pneumonia- and influenza-related hospitalizations. The risk of post-influenza pneumonia is significantly increased according to the number of concurrent comorbidities in older people.
And on May 31, 2022, a peer-reviewed Original Investigation published by The JAMA Network found that ‘Patients with pneumonia admitted to hospitals with high all-cause readmission rates were more likely to develop adverse events during the index hospitalization. This finding strengthens the evidence that readmission rates reflect the quality of hospital care for pneumonia.’
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Your Fall Vaccination Guide: Protect Yourself Against The Flu Pneumonia And Shingles
The adjuvanted flu vaccine is sold under the names FLUAD and FLUAD Quadrivalent. Approved for use in the United States in 2015, the original form of FLUAD is a trivalent, but this flu season the FLUAD comes in a quadrivalent form as well. Because FLUAD Quadrivalent is new, supplies of the trivalent may be the only type of FLUAD available at certain locations.
Either the high dose vaccine or the adjuvanted vaccine are both considered pretty equivalent at this point , says Conway. Its important that people in that older age group advocate for themselves and insist that they get one of those vaccines.
For seniors worried that a stronger flu shot may be more painful, Dr. Winslow has some personal wisdom to share: I am 67 so I had the experience of getting the high dose vaccine myself just a couple of weeks ago, and Id like to reassure your readers that my arm was not particularly sore.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
- Adults and children who are 6 months of age and older
- Anyone 65 years and older
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Adults and children 6 months and older who needed regular medical care or were in a hospital during the previous year because of
- a metabolic disease
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic respiratory disease
- chronic cardiac disease
- weakened immune system
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Flu Vaccine For Frontline Health And Social Care Workers
If you’re a frontline health and social care worker, your employer should offer you a flu vaccine. They may give the vaccine at your workplace.
You can also have an NHS flu vaccine at a GP surgery or a pharmacy if you’re not offered it by your employer and:
- you’re a health or social care worker employed by a registered residential care or nursing home, registered homecare organisation or a hospice
- you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both
Can I Get The Flu Vaccine If I Have A Latex Allergy
Influenza vaccines used in Australia dont contain latex and are safe for people with a latex allergy or sensitivity. While the product information for Fluarix Tetra and Fluad Quad state that some presentations of the vaccine cannot be considered latex-free, these presentations are actually not supplied in Australia.
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Are Any Of The Available Flu Vaccines Recommended Over Others
Yes, for some people. For the 2022-2023 flu season, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older. These are Fluzone High-DoseQuadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinantflu vaccine or Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. On June 22, 2022, CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to preferentially recommend these vaccines overstandard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines. This recommendation was based on a review of available studies which suggests that, in this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective than standard dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines. There is no preferential recommendation for people younger than 65 years.
Who Can Receive Fluad Quadrivalent
In the United States, Fluad Quadrivalent is licensed only for people 65 years and older. FLUAD Quadrivalent should not be given to people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any flu vaccine or to vaccine ingredients other than eggs. Information about vaccine ingredients is located in package inserts from each manufacturer.
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Different Target Different Approach
While many of the newer approaches for delivering influenza virus antigens can accommodate any viral protein or peptide, most proof-of-concept studies have been conducted with HA. While HA-based immunity is potent and well described, and improving its delivery an important task, a true overhaul of influenza vaccination requires a search for more conserved antigens. The discovery of a protective universal influenza vaccine would essentially remove many of the major issues associated with influenza vaccination. As the vaccine would not need to be updated, the vaccine could be produced year round with a timetable set by manufacturers and not the virus itself. While the search for a universal influenza vaccine is far from over, some more conserved viral epitopes have been evaluated as vaccine targets.
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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Flu Vaccine Efficacy Factors
There are a number of factors that influence how effective the flu vaccine is every year. The most important is strain matchingwhether the strains that the vaccine protects against match the most widely circulating flu strains during a given season.
In addition to the construction of the vaccine, there are more personal factors that influence vaccine effectiveness.
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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How To Book Your Appointment
If you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine, you can book an appointment at your GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS.
You may also receive an invitation to get vaccinated, but you do not have to wait for this before booking an appointment.
Everyone who is eligible for the free flu vaccine will be able to get it.
GP surgeries and pharmacies get the flu vaccine in batches throughout the flu season. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book one for when more vaccines are available.
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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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.
What Does The Flu Shot Do
By exposing you to a dead or weakened version of the flu virus, the flu shot causes your body to develop antibodies to the virus about two weeks after vaccination.
The antibodies can protect you from getting the flu. They can also protect you from developing severe influenza complications such as pneumonia, sinus infections, and ear infections if you do get sick.
The effectiveness of the flu shot can vary based on your age and health as well as how well the vaccine matches the flu viruses that are circulating in your area.
Still, the flu vaccine can reduce your risk of having to seek medical attention due to the flu by up to 40 percent to 60 percent.
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