The Types Of Flu Vaccine Available
There are several types of flu vaccine. You will be offered one that is most effective for you, depending upon your age, from the following:
- children aged 2 to 17 are offered a live vaccine as a nasal spray. The live viruses have been weakened so it cannot give you flu
- adults aged 18 to 64 are offered an injectable vaccine. It is an inactivated vaccine that does not contain any live viruses and cannot give you flu. There are different types available depending on how they were manufactured
- adults aged 65 and over are offered an injected vaccine. It is an inactivated vaccine that does not contain any live viruses and cannot give you flu. Usually, you will be offered one that contains an adjuvant that helps the immune system create a stronger response to the vaccine. It is offered to people in this age group because as people age their immune system responds less well to vaccines
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years old and is in a high-risk group for flu, they will be offered an injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for children under the age of 2. Some children over the age of 2 who are in a high-risk group will also need to have an injected vaccine if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.
People Who Are Pregnant
During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes that can affect the immune system, heart and lungs. These changes can make it harder for the body to fight off infections.
People who get the flu shot during pregnancy pass on protection to their baby. This is especially important, as babies younger than 6 months can’t get vaccinated against the flu. Getting your flu shot can help protect your baby from the flu after birth.
Learn more about:
Children And The Flu Vaccination
If you have a child over 6 months of age who has one of the conditions listed above, they should have a flu vaccination. All these children are more likely to become severely ill if they catch flu, and it could make their existing condition worse.
Talk to your GP about your child having the flu vaccination before the flu season starts.
The flu vaccine does not work well in babies under 6 months of age so it is not recommended. This is why it is so important that pregnant women have the vaccination they will pass on some immunity to their baby that will protect them during the early months of their life.
Some other groups of children and young people are also being offered the flu vaccination. This is to help protect them against the disease and help reduce its spread both to other children, including their brothers or sisters, and, of course, their parents and grandparents. This will help you to avoid the need to take time off work because of flu or to look after your children with flu.
The children being offered the vaccine this year, are:
- all children aged 2 or 3 years old on 31 August 2021
- all primary school-aged children
- all year 7 to year 11 secondary school-aged children
- children with a health condition that puts them at greater risk from flu
For more information on children and flu vaccination, visit NHS.UK.
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Flu Isnt Just A Heavy Cold
Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why its sometimes called seasonal flu. Its a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly.
Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within 2 to 7 days but, for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
Key Factors For An Effective Vaccination Program
Certain barriers to flu vaccination have been identified, which include: considering the flu as a mild disease capable by their immune system relying on protection from last years flu vaccination not considering themselves a risk to infection fear of contracting flu from vaccination fear of side effects lack of time and disbelief in vaccine safety and efficacy. On the other hand, HCWs that are vaccinated are primarily motivated by protecting their patients, their families, and themselves, as well as avoiding being sick and generating an increase in workload. Understanding barriers can help create effective vaccination programs12.
If you are a healthcare professional, you have a duty of care to your patients. If you dont get vaccinated, then how can you care for patients if you were to feel ill. Also, how can you encourage patients who are at risk to get vaccinated with confidence?
Harsha Vara, Pharmacist, UK
A benchmark study from four high-performing countries with high flu vaccine coverage rates , points at key factors for a successful vaccination program for HCWs13,14:
ESNO calls for a health professional domain climate change regarding tackling infections and future pandemics so that a motivated, sustainable, and competent nurses workforce can be relied upon.
Ber Oomen, Interim Executive Director, European Specialist Nurses Organisation
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Risk Groups For Influenza
The people at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization include:
- people who are pregnant
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- morbid obesity
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
The following statement elaborates on persons at high risk of influenza-related complications:
Additionally, to reduce the risk of severe illness that could potentially arise from co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, it is particularly recommended that the following groups also receive the influenza vaccine this season:
- people at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
- people capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
For additional advice regarding the administration of seasonal influenza vaccine in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, refer to:
Facts To Know About Flu And Chronic Conditions
Adults with certain chronic conditions are at higher risk of developing serious complications from flu.
A flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick with flu. For people with certain chronic health conditions a flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-related worsening of chronic conditions and prevent flu-associated hospitalization.
- Metabolic disorders
- People who are obese with a body mass index of 40 or higher
- People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications
- People who have had a stroke
- People with certain disabilitiesespecially those who may have trouble with muscle function, lung function, or difficulty coughing, swallowing, or clearing fluids from their airways.
A full list of health and age factors that are known to increase a persons risk of getting serious complications from flu can be found on Who is at Higher Risk of Flu Complications
There are lots of reasons to get a flu shot!
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Influenza Vaccination Among Health
Influenza vaccination among health-care workers is considered to be the most important strategy for preventing the transmission of influenza viruses to vulnerable patients and minimizing absenteeism among HCWs during annual epidemics . Indeed, hospitalized patients may acquire influenza not only from other patients or visitors but also from hospital employees. Elder et al. estimated a 20% influenza infection rate among HCWs each season . Many HCWs continue working while infected, thereby spreading the virus . Therefore, vaccinating medical personnel against influenza is the most effective strategy for preventing nosocomial influenza transmission and reducing influenza-like illness mortality among elderly and high-risk patients . Although this is recognized and emphasized by all public health agencies worldwide, influenza vaccination coverage among HCWs remain lower than 75% .
One of the main goals of public health authorities should be to promote proper attitudes towards and knowledge of influenza vaccination among HCWs, since this is the best means of protecting both them and their patients. Moreover, HCWs should have appropriate skills in counseling patients with regard to the importance of influenza vaccination, especially among the high-risk classes of individuals analyzed in this review .
What Are The Complications Of The Flu
¿Cuáles son las complicaciones de la gripe?Las complicaciones pueden ser neumonía, infección de los oído, sinusitis, deshidratación o empeoramiento de problemas existentes como diabetes, asma o enfermedad del corazón. Por eso, es muy importante que quienes viven con personas que tienen mayor riesgo de sufrir complicaciones se vacunen.
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Flu & People 65 Years And Older
People 65 years and older are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications compared with young, healthy adults. This increased risk is due in part to changes in immune defenses with increasing age. While flu seasons vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, for example, its estimated that between 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.
How You Catch Flu
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you should wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.
But the best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.
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What Health Professionals Need To Know
Influenza is a respiratory illness caused primarily by the influenza A and B viruses.
While most people recover in 7 to 10 days, severe illness can occur. Some groups are at a greater risk of influenza-related complications.
Getting vaccinated against influenza each fall is the best way to help prevent infection.
For the 2021-22 flu season, it is especially important for Canadians to get the flu vaccine to reduce:
- the morbidity and mortality associated with influenza
- any further pressure on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic
Influenza A and B are the main influenza viruses that cause seasonal outbreaks in humans.
Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on 2 surface proteins:
Of these, the influenza A viruses that have caused widespread human disease over the decades are:
- 3 subtypes of HA
- 2 subtypes of NA
Influenza B has evolved into 2 lineages:
Over time, antigenic variation of strains occurs within an influenza A subtype or B lineage. The ever-present possibility of antigenic drift requires seasonal influenza vaccines to be reformulated annually. Antigenic drift may occur in 1 or more influenza virus strains. This is why a new flu vaccine is needed each flu season.
Where Can I Get A Flu Vaccine
You should be able to get a free flu vaccine from your GP or local pharmacy offering the service, such as LloydsPharmacy. Pregnant women may also be able to receive the vaccine for free from their midwifery service.
If you want to receive your vaccination from LloydsPharmacy we recommend calling your nearest store ahead of time. You dont need an appointment, but its advised that you speak to one of our pharmacists to discuss your eligibility and check availability before you visit in person.
If youre not eligible for a free vaccine, you can pay to receive it.
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What Groups Of People Are High
Dr. Hodges talks about groups of people who are at high risk of getting the flu. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.
There are a variety of groups of people who are at a higher risk of catching the flu and of having complications from it. Though everyone 6 months old and older should get vaccinated, it is most-important for these high-risk groups to get a flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
High-risk groups of people, according to the CDC, include:
- Infants and children
- People with disabilities, including people with limited mobility and limited communications skills
- People with medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
- People who live with or care for others at high risk
- Pregnant women
For more information about who is at high risk of getting the flu, talk with your physician.
Children Who Shouldnt Have The Vaccination
Children may not be able to have the nasal vaccine if they:
- are currently wheezy or have been wheezy in the past 72 hours, they should be offered a suitable injected flu vaccine to avoid a delay in protection
- have needed intensive care due to asthma or egg allergic anaphylaxis
- have a condition, or are on treatment, that severely weakens their immune system or have someone in their household who needs isolation because they are severely immunosuppressed
- are allergic to any other components of the vaccine
- have a condition that needs salicylate treatment
Also, children who have been vaccinated with the nasal spray should avoid close contact with people with very severely weakened immune systems for around 2 weeks following vaccination because theres an extremely remote chance that the vaccine virus may be passed to them.
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Influenza Vaccination Among The Elderly
In the temperate zones, an increase in expected mortality levels is frequently observed among the elderly during the winter season this increase, however, largely depends on the season or country .
Excess mortality may be related to two main factors: a) seasonal influenza, especially during seasons with a prevalent circulation of influenza A, and other respiratory tract infections b) environmental conditions .
In recent years, several studies have shown the worldwide impact of influenza infection on excess winter mortality rates in the elderly .
People With Health Conditions
These conditions can affect a person’s immune system and can make it harder to fight off infections, 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
Getting the flu can also worsen the symptoms associated with some of these health conditions.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Influenza
Flu symptoms often appear suddenly. People at higher risk of complications, such as those with chronic lung disease, should seek prompt medical attention. Treatment may include antiviral medicine which can reduce symptoms if started within a day or two of getting sick.
Symptoms of influenza can include:
- Sudden onset of high fever
- Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
- Stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea may occur but are more common in children than adults.
Most people recover from the flu within one or two weeks, but others, especially the elderly, may feel weak for a long time even after other symptoms go away.
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.
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Who Is Considered High Risk4
Millions of people in the United States are at high risk for developing flu complications. These risk factors include:
In Trial 3, subjects aged 12 years were randomized to receive XOFLUZA 40 mg or 80 mg according to body weight , oseltamivir 75 mg twice daily for 5 days , or placebo . High-risk factors were based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of health factors known to increase the risk of developing serious complications from influenza, including underlying asthma or chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, morbid obesity, or 65 years of age. The primary efficacy endpoint was time to improvement of influenza symptoms . This endpoint included alleviation of new symptoms and improvement of any preexisting symptoms that had worsened due to influenza. The median value of the primary endpoint of time to improvement of symptoms with XOFLUZA was 73 hours vs 102 hours with placebo.1
There was no statistically significant difference in the median time to improvement of influenza symptoms in the subjects who received XOFLUZA and those who received oseltamivir .1
*Not all high-risk factors, as defined by the CDC, were included in Trial 3.1,4
Types Of Flu Shots For People 65 And Older
People 65 years and older should get a flu shot, not a nasal spray vaccine. They can get any flu vaccine approved for use in their age group with no preference for any one vaccine over another. There are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 years and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for this age group:
High Dose and Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine Side Effects
The high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the temporary, mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose seasonal flu shots. Side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache and malaise, and typically resolve with 1 to 3 days.
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