How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine
Vaccination gives the best protection against flu.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there’s still a chance you might get flu.
If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having a flu vaccine may help stop you spreading flu to other people who could be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.
Vaccines For Adults 65+
Influenza can make older adults very sick. Two vaccines are approved just for seniors to give better protection against the flu. A high-dose flu vaccine is the preferred choice for adults 65 years and older. It protects against four strains of the influenza virus. If this vaccine is not available, then Fluad® is recommended. Both of these vaccines may cause more soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given, lasting a few days longer than the standard vaccine. If neither of these vaccines are available, do not delay in getting vaccinated. All flu vaccines provide good protection.
Why Is The Flu More Dangerous For Older Adults
The flu is more dangerous for older adults for a few reasons. One reason is that the immune system which helps your body fight infections weakens as you age. For example, because your body is busy fighting off the flu, you might pick up a secondary infection such as pneumonia. A second reason is that older adults are also more likely to have other health conditions, like diabetes, that increase their risk for complications from the flu.
The good news is the flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu and of getting seriously ill if you do get sick with the flu. Flu vaccination is especially helpful for people with chronic health conditions. For example, it has been linked to lower rates of heart problems among people with heart disease and fewer hospitalizations among people who have chronic lung disease or diabetes. Learn more about the benefits of flu vaccination.
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How Can You Prevent The Flu
The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. It makes it less likely that you will get the flu. It also reduces your chances of being hospitalized or dying if you do get sick with the flu.
In addition to getting your flu vaccine, you can help stop the spread of flu by:
- Washing your hands
- Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Staying home when you are sick
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school
How Serious Is The Flu
Most people who get the flu feel better after a few days to two weeks. However, the flu can make you seriously ill. Some people develop other health issues, called complications, because of the flu. Complications can be mild, such as a sinus or ear infection, or more serious, like pneumonia.
Anyone can get sick from the flu, but some people are more likely to have complications. You are more at risk for flu and its complications if you:
- Are age 65 or older
- Have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease
- Have heart disease or have had a stroke
- Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
Pregnant people and children younger than five years old are also more likely to get very sick from the flu. Flu vaccination is especially important for people in these higher-risk groups. Learn more about people at increased risk for flu and its complications.
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Specific Flu Shots For People 65 And Older
For the 2022-2023 season, CDC and ACIP preferentially recommend the use of higher-dose flu vaccines or adjuvanted flu vaccine over standard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines for people 65 years and older. This recommendation is 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. More information is available at Flu Vaccines Worked Better than Initially Estimated this Past Season & CDCs Advisory Council Recommends Specific Flu Vaccines for Seniors. If one of these vaccines is not available at the time of administration, people in this age group should get a standard-dose unadjuvanted inactivated flu vaccine instead. There are other flu vaccines approved for use in people 65 years and older. People 65 years and older should not get a nasal spray vaccine. More information about preferentially recommended flu vaccines is below:
High Dose and Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine Side Effects
Get pneumococcal vaccines
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
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What Vaccines Are Recommended For People 6 Months To 64 Years Of Age
- Children 6-23 months of age will be given the FLUZONE® QUADRIVALENT vaccine.
- Children and teens 2-17 years of age will be given the FLUZONE® QUADRIVALENT or the FLUMIST® QUADRIVALENT vaccine .
- People 18-64 years of age will be given the FLUZONE® QUADRIVALENT vaccine. People in this age group with severe needle phobia who are unwilling to get an influenza vaccine given by injection may be given the FLUMIST® QUADRIVALENT vaccine. However, it is important to note that the FLUZONE® QUADRIVALENT vaccine provides better protection against influenza than the FLUMIST® QUADRIVALENT vaccine for this age group.
Flu Shot Recommendations If You’re Over 65
Older adults are at a higher risk for flu-related complications. Between 70% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people 65 and older, and 50% to 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in this age group.
The CDC recommends that people 65 and older get either a higher-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine. The two vaccine types offer similar benefits but are a little different:
- An adjuvantvaccine has an ingredient in it that helps the vaccine create a stronger immune response in the body.
- A high-dose flu vaccine just provides a bigger dose of the substance that causes an immune response in the body than standard flu vaccines do.
Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, told Verywell that it’s “encouraging that both of these formulations seem to be doing a good job of providing protection.”
Overall, Russo said there’s no preference for which vaccine seniors should get, and he “would recommend either the high-dose or adjuvanted.”
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People Who Shouldnt Have The Vaccination
Almost everybody can have the vaccine, but you should not be vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergy to the vaccine, or any of its ingredients. If you are allergic to eggs or have a condition that weakens your immune system, you may not be able to have certain types of flu vaccine check with your GP. If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed until you are better.
Development Of Candidate Vaccine Viruses
- In general influenza wild type A viruses recommended for inclusion in vaccines do not grow efficiently in eggs for large scale production.
- Two technologies are being used for the development of suitable candidate reassortant vaccine viruses:
- classical reassortment, available since 1971 to generate hybrid viruses.
- reverse genetics, a patented technology, available to attenuate highly pathogenic viruses and reassort the attenuated HA and NA with backbone virus.
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How To Treat Flu Shot Side Effects
Tylenol Rapid Release Gels
Usually, any side effects you might get from the flu vaccine go away on their own within a day or twobut you dont have to tough it out if you really feel run down. Try these self-care measures to feel better ASAP:
For muscle aches, headache, or flu-like symptoms, take a pain reliever, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.
For arm pain after the flu shot, apply a cool compress.
The same goes for side effects of the nasal flu vaccine. Treatment is based on a persons symptoms, Dr. Kemmerly says. All in all, minor aches are a small price to pay for the vast protection the flu vaccine provides for both you and those around you.
How We Protect Against Flu
Flu is unpredictable. Flu vaccination provides the best protection. There are different strains of flu virus. The strains that are most likely to cause illness are identified in advance of the flu season. Vaccines are then made to match them as closely as possible. Even if the vaccine doesnt perfectly match a strain it usually provides some protection against it.
The vaccines are given in the autumn ideally before flu starts circulating.
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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.
Those Who Should Consider Having A Flu Vaccination
All those who have any condition listed above, or who are:
aged 65 years or over
living in a residential or nursing home
the main carer of an older or disabled person
living with someone who has lowered immunity due to disease or treatment
a frontline health or social care worker
pregnant, see below
children of a certain age see below
From mid-October 2022 everyone aged 50 to 64 years old will also be eligible for flu vaccination. This is so at-risk patients can be prioritised first. If youre in this age group and have a long-term health condition that puts you at risk from flu, you dont have to wait.
See NHS.UK for further information and to check when you are eligible.
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Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
You should not get the flu vaccine if you:
- have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine or any part of the vaccine
- are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors, for example, ipilimumab and nivolumab
- have a temperature greater than 38 degrees Celsius – wait until you are well before getting the vaccine
- have severe neutropoenia, which is low levels of a type of white blood cell – if you have primary autoimmune neutropenia, you should be able to get the flu vaccine, ask your GP
If you have an egg allergy, talk to your vaccinator before getting the vaccine. Most people with an egg allergy can get the flu vaccine.
What Vaccines Are Recommended For Adults 65 Years And Older
- The FLUZONE® High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine is publicly funded for adults 65 years of age and older living in long-term care, assisted living facilities, and First Nations communities. This vaccine contains a higher dose of antigen to help create a stronger immune response.
- The FLUAD® vaccine is publicly funded for all other adults 65 years of age and older. This vaccine is a trivalent influenza vaccine and contains an adjuvant that helps create a stronger immune response.
Either of these enhanced influenza vaccines are recommended for this age group.
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Side Effects Of The Flu Vaccine
Like all medicines, the flu vaccine can cause side effects. They’re usually mild and normally last only a day or two. Its normal to experience side effects after a vaccine. It shows the vaccine is teaching your bodys immune system how to protect itself from the disease. But not everyone gets side effects.
These potential side effects are much less serious than flu or complications associated with flu.
Who Should Not Get A Flu Vaccine
Children younger than 6 months cannot get a flu shot. Those who have had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past should not get that type of flu shot again, and they should speak with their health care provider about whether they can receive another type of flu shot, the CDC says.
Similarly, people who have had a life-threatening reaction to ingredients in flu vaccines besides egg proteins shouldn’t get flu vaccines with those ingredients and they should speak with their health care provider about whether there is a flu vaccine that’s right for them, the CDC says. These other ingredients might include gelatin or antibiotics, which are added to some flu shots to prevent bacterial contamination during manufacturing.
People with egg allergies can still receive any type of flu shot that’s recommended for their age group, even if the flu shot is made with egg-based technology , the CDC says. Studies have found that people with egg allergies are very unlikely to experience a severe reaction to flu vaccines. People who’ve had a severe allergic reaction to eggs should get their flu shot under the supervision of a health care provider who can treat severe allergic reactions, the CDC says. In addition, several types of flu shots are egg-free, including recombinant flu vaccines and cell-based flu vaccines.
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Can I Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
No, the flu vaccine cannot cause flu. The vaccines either contain inactivated virus, meaning the viruses are no longer infectious, or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system. While the nasal spray flu vaccine does contain a live virus, the viruses are changed so that they cannot give you the flu.
Where Can I Get An Influenza Vaccine
Influenza vaccines are provided at a wide variety of locations across the province, including:
- Doctors’ offices
Services vary by location. You can use our influenza clinic locator to find an influenza vaccine clinic near you.
To find a pharmacy offering the influenza vaccine near you, please visit this link. You may be able to book your influenza vaccine online or by phone, and some pharmacies are accepting walk-ins.
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How To Treat Flu Vaccine Side Effects If Youre Really Struggling
Although side effects shouldnt last long, theres no shame in wanting to minimize your pain. To deal with any aches or a fever, you can try an OTC pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your arm is really sore, consider icing it to help with inflammation. Getting plenty of sleep, loading up on water, and generally trying to take it easy until you feel a bit better is always a good idea, too.
And if you have any questions about the flu vaccineif and when you should get your flu shot or nasal spray vaccine, if you should be worried about side effects, concerns about allergies, or anything elsedont hesitate to talk it over with a health care professional. Theyre there to help you make the process as seamless as possible.
Additional reporting by Korin Miller
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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What Is A Senior Flu Shot
People 65 and older are at the highest risk for complications from influenza. About half of flu-related hospitalizations and up to 85% of flu-related deaths are in this age group. Because of that, its critical that they get their flu shot.
This age group, like everyone else, will need a flu shot each year. A person’s protection wanes over time, and each year the vaccine is tailored to the most prominent flu strains. September and October are the best times to get the senior flu shot, but you can get it later in the season too.
A person 65 and older can get any available flu shot approved for that age group. However, they shouldnt get the nasal spray vaccine. In addition, they might benefit from vaccines specifically designed for people 65 and older.