The Forties: Inactivated Influenzavaccines
Influenza vaccination had two main objectives: to protect against disease, and to achieve a high vaccination rate in order to ensure protection in unvaccinated people. The first vaccine was an inactivated, monovalent preparation which only contained a subtype of the influenza A virus .
In December 1942, large studies were begun to be conducted on the first influenza virus vaccines these provided the first official proof that inactivated influenza vaccines could yield effective protection against flu epidemics .
The efficacy and safety of inactivated vaccines were first studied between 1942 and 1945 in the meantime, a new strain of flu virus was discovered, the influenza virus type B, which is the main cause of seasonal epidemics, as was the phenomenon of so-called “influenza mismatch”. Influenza mismatch is caused by major and minor mutations of circulating viruses. As a result, the virus contained in the vaccine does not match the circulating strain, determining a reduction in the effectiveness of subtype A influenza vaccines.
A new route of influenza immunization was tested in December 1942, with the subcutaneous inactivated bivalent vaccine containing viruses of type A and type B. The following years, the first bivalent vaccine was licensed in the United States and became available for use in the general population .
Everyone 6 Months And Older Should Get The Flu Shot
The flu shot is your best defence against the flu. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
It can save lives by:
- protecting you, if you’re exposed to the virus
- preventing you from getting very sick
- protecting people close to you:
- because you’re less likely to spread the virus
- who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu
The flu shot wont protect you against COVID-19.
What To Know About Flu Shots For Older Adults
Q: Is the flu vaccine effective for older adults?
A: You may have heard people say that the flu shot doesnt work in older people. This is not entirely correct.
Now, its true that flu vaccine is usually less effective in older adults because aging immune systems tend to not respond as vigorously to the vaccine. In other words, older adults tend to create fewer antibodies in response to vaccination. So if they are later exposed to flu virus, they have a higher chance of falling ill, compared to younger adults.
But less effective doesnt mean not at all effective. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that vaccination prevented about 700,000 influenza cases and 65,000 hospitalizations, for adults aged 65 and older.
For more on the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in older adults, see:
To provide more effective vaccination to aging immune systems, vaccine makers have developed stronger vaccines against the flu, which I explain in the next section.
Q: Are there flu shots specifically designed for older adults?
Yes, over the past several years, vaccine makers have developed vaccines that are designed to work better with an aging immune system. Most research studies to date show that these stimulate aging immune systems to produce more antibodies to influenza. Theres also some evidence that these vaccines reduce the risk of being hospitalized for influenza.
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What Is The History Of Flu Vaccine Development
In 1933, researchers discovered that viruses cause influenza . Prior to 1933, people thought a bacterium named Haemophilus influenzae caused the flu. In 1938, Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis developed the first vaccine against flu viruses. This first flu vaccine protected the U.S. military forces against the flu during World War II. Dr. Salk used his experience with influenza vaccine to develop an effective polio vaccine in 1952. Vaccines produced from the 1940s to the 1960s were not as purified as more modern vaccines, and the impurities in vaccines were thought to contribute to side effects such as fever, aches, and fatigue. Since these symptoms were similar to those that accompanied the flu , people mistakenly thought they got the flu from the vaccination. However, they did not get the flu from the vaccines since the vaccines used killed virus.
Because of the potential for widespread infection, life-threatening complications, and deaths that the H1N1 pandemic virus strain seemed to possess, health researchers accelerated the H1N1 tests so that the vaccine could be provided before the usual six-month timeline. However, all of the steps were done in the same way as for seasonal vaccines but over a shorter period with fewer people involved in the initial trials. Tested and approved H1N1 vaccine started to become available in late September 2009 and in October 2009 in the Americas and Asia.
I Heard That The Flu Vaccine Was Not Very Effective Why Should I Get It If Its Not Effective
While vaccine effectiveness can vary, studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. It is also the best way to reduce your risk of serious illness. Remember, if you dont get a vaccine at all, thats 0% effective.
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Still Getting The Flu
Sometimes you can get the flu shot and still come down with the flu. It takes around 2 weeks after receiving the vaccination for your body to develop immunity. During this time, you can still get catch the flu.
Another reason why you can still catch the flu is if there wasnt a good vaccine match. Researchers need to decide which strains to include in the vaccine many months before flu season actually starts.
When theres not a good match between the selected strains and the strains that actually end up circulating during flu season, the vaccine isnt as effective.
Practice Good Health Habits
Flu viruses spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another person. They may also spread when people touch something covered with infected droplets and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu virus is spread to other people when you cough or sneeze into your hands and then touch other things.
- Clean and sanitize places that are touched regularly, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- Wash your hands frequently with water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
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What Are The Types Of Flu Vaccines
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 20202021 flu season. Both protect against the four types of influenza virus that are causing disease this season::
- the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
- the nasal spray, a mist which gets sprayed into the nostrils
In the past, the nasal spray vaccine wasn’t recommended for kids because it didn’t seem to work well enough. The newer version appears to work as well as the shot. So either vaccine can be given this year, depending on the child’s age and general health.
The nasal spray is only for healthy people ages 249. People with weak immune systems or some health conditions and pregnant women should not get the nasal spray vaccine.
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.
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Can My Child Get The Flu Vaccine At The Same Time As Another Childhood Vaccine Including The Covid
Yes. It is safe to get the seasonal flu vaccine at the same time as any childhood vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Many children are behind with their childhood vaccines or boosters because of the COVID-19 pandemic and getting the vaccines at the same time can help them catch up more quickly.
For children 5 to 11 years old, it may be best to wait at least 14 days between the COVID-19 and other vaccines. The reason for this is that if any side effects happen, doctors will know which vaccine they are related to. But only space out vaccines if you are sure that no other vaccines your child needs will be given late.
How Does Influenza Spread
Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing or having face-to-face contact. The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person or object and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
Symptoms can begin about 1 to 4 days, or an average of 2 days, after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days, but the cough and weakness may last 1 to 2 weeks longer.
An infected person can spread the influenza virus even before feeling sick. An adult can spread the virus from about 1 day before to 5 days after symptoms start. Young children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to spread the virus for a longer period of time.
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Why Should I Get The Flu Vaccine
Nationally, influenza vaccination prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths due to influenza during the 2019-2020 season. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.
It is especially important to get the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Flu vaccination reduces the prevalence and severity of illness caused by flu, reducing symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19
- It will reduce the overall burden of respiratory illness that will protect people at higher risk for severe illness of both flu and COVID-19
- The reduction of outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions from flu vaccination will alleviate stress on the health care system
For additional information, please see the CDC page: This Season a Flu Vaccine is More Important than Ever!
What To Do If Your Older Parent Or Relative Is Unwilling Or Unable To Get Vaccinated
Now, what if your older parent wont, or cant, get a flu shot?
Some older adults just dont want to get it. Here are some things you can try:
- Ask them to clarify what their concerns are. Its important to start by listening, in order to understand what an older person believes about the flu and the flu shot.
- Provide information to dispel myths and misunderstandings. Sometimes all people need is a little of the right kind of information.
- Point out that it can benefit an older persons family members and neighbors. Getting a flu shot can reduce the risk that we pass the flu on to another person. People are sometimes more willing to take action to protect others than to protect their own health.
- Make sure they know they wont have to pay for the flu shot. If you get the shot from a provider who takes Medicare, it shouldnt cost anything.
- Offer to go together to get your flu shots. Sometimes it helps to make it a family outing.
There are also some older adults for whom its hard to get a flu shot, such as people who are homebound or have very limited transportation options.
If this is your situation, the main thing to do is encourage flu shots for family and others coming to the house. For older adults who dont get out much, their main source of exposure to influenza and other dangerous viruses will be from those who come to them.
Above all, dont panic if your older loved one cant or wont get a flu shot.
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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.
Symptoms And Causative Agent
Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. There are two main types of influenza viruses but many different strains of each type. The diseases caused by these viruses are often collectively referred to simply as the flu.
Illness from influenza can range from mild to very severe depending on several factors, including the viral strain, the patients age, and the patients health. Certain groups are at higher risk for serious complications from the flu.
Symptoms of the flu tend to emerge suddenly and include fever, chills, coughing, sore throat, achiness, headaches, and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, but these symptoms are more common for children than for adults.
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When Should Seniors Get The Influenza Vaccine
It is important for seniors to get the influenza vaccine before the influenza season starts.
In B.C., the influenza vaccines are usually available in October. For best protection, you should try to get the vaccine as soon as possible. This gives your body enough time, about 2 weeks, to build immunity before the influenza season starts. This immunity typically lasts through the influenza season which usually ends in April.
In addition to the influenza vaccine, seniors should be immunized against pneumococcal disease. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against infections of the brain, bloodstream, lungs and ear. It is safe to get the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines at the same time. Most people only need 1 dose of pneumococcal vaccine and will not need a booster dose.
For information about pneumococcal infection and the vaccine, see HealthLinkBC File #62b Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine.
When Should My Child Get A Flu Vaccine
Doctors recommend that your child get a flu vaccine every year in the fall, starting when he or she is 6 months old. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses for best protection.
- CDC recommends a flu vaccine by the end of October, before flu begins spreading in your community. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.
- Children 6 months through 8 years getting a flu vaccine for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of flu vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine. The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.
- If your child previously got two doses of flu vaccine , he only needs one dose of flu vaccine this season.
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone ages six months and older. Pregnant women should get a flu vaccine during each pregnancy. Flu vaccines given during pregnancy help protect both the mother and her baby from flu.
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Risks From Mistake Low: Manitoba Health
In an emailed statement to CBC, Manitoba Health and Seniors Care acknowledged a woman and a three-year-old were mistakenly given an adult dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and said it has investigated the mistake.
Such medication errors “are rare, but they do occur,” the statement said.
The parent “was informed of the error and provided information about the risks, which in this case was low,” the health department said.
Available Vaccines And Vaccination Campaigns
Because new strains of influenza appear frequently, the seasonal flu vaccine usually changes each year. Each season vaccine is generally designed to protect against three strains of influenza: two A strains, and one B strain. From start to finishthe selection of which three strains to target with the vaccine, to the production of the final productthe development process for the seasonal flu vaccine can take up to eight months.
Influenza surveillance centers around the world monitor the circulating influenza strains for trends year-round. Genetic data is collected and new mutations are identified. The World Health Organization is then responsible for selecting three strains most likely to genetically resemble strains circulating in the coming winter flu season. For the northern hemisphere winter, this decision is made in the February prior. In some cases, one of the strains used in the previous years vaccine may be chosen again, if that strain continues to circulate. From this point, the development and production of the vaccine can begin.
Four to five months after the three vaccine strains have been selected , the three vaccine strains that have been developed are separately tested for purity and potency. Only after individual testing is completed are the three strains combined into a single seasonal vaccine.
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