Who Should Get Immunised Against Influenza
Everyone who is able to be vaccinated, should be vaccinated against the flu, every year.
Yearly flu vaccination is provided free through the National Immunisation Program for most people in the community who are at an increased risk of serious complications.
In Victoria, flu vaccination is free for:
- children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months and over
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- people 65 years and over.
- people aged six months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications:
- cardiac disease
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
People not eligible for free flu vaccination under the National Immunisation Program can purchase the flu vaccine from their immunisation provider.
Do I Really Need A Flu Vaccine
If you’re over 6 months old, the CDC says yes, you need to get a flu vaccination at the start of every flu season. Despite the fact that we tend to label any illness that makes us sneeze, shiver, or vomit as “the flu,” true influenza isn’t a trivial illness. It can do far worse than just keep you home from work or school for a few days.
“Hundreds of thousands of people each year are hospitalized with influenza. Between 3,000 and 40,000 people die during any influenza season, depending on the strain that’s circulating,” says Jeffrey Duchin, MD. He’s chief of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization Section at Seattle & King County Public Health, and an associate professor in medicine in the University of Washington Division of Infectious Diseases.
Although young infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions like asthma or heart disease are most susceptible to flu complications , people of all ages die from the disease each year.
“It’s a serious health problem for adults and children. And it’s preventable,” says Duchin, who is also a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices . “We have a way for people to avoid unnecessary doctor’s visits, to avoid unnecessary antibiotics, and to avoid hospitalization.”
Flu Vaccine Side Effects
Flu vaccines are very safe. All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.
Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:
- slightly raised temperature
- muscle aches
- sore arm where the needle went in this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over
Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:
- continue to move your arm regularly
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it
Antibiotics Appear To Cut Flu Vaccine Effectiveness
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A new study in healthy adults suggests that antibiotics may reduce flu vaccine effectiveness.
The depletion of gut bacteria by antibiotics appears to leave the immune system less able to respond to new challenges, such as exposure to previously unencountered germs or vaccines, says Bali Pulendran, professor of pathology and of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the effects of broad-spectrum antibiotics on the immune response in humansin this case, our response to vaccinationdirectly induced through the disturbance of our gut bacteria, he says.
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 a health or social care worker employed by a registered residential care or nursing home, registered homecare organisation or a hospice
- you work in NHS primary care and have direct contact with patients this includes contractors, non-clinical staff and locums
- you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both
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How Do Antibiotics Fight Infections
Antibiotics are common medications, but they are also sophisticated weapons that kill or stun bacteria in your body. There are a number of different types, and they work in a variety of ways against different types of bacteria.
Its important to know that antibiotics work by killing bacteria, so theyre effective only when you have an infection caused by bacteria in your body. This is different from vaccines, which can shield you from infections caused by bacteria or viruses that you might encounter in the future.
Some antibiotics directly kill bacteria. These are called bactericidal antibiotics. Other antibiotics are bacteriostatic. This means that they slow bacteria down, giving your immune system time to catch up. Either way, antibiotics can stop a bacterial infection from spreading.
Because antibiotics attack bacteria that are living in your body, theyre most effective when youre already sick with an infection.
What about antiseptics?
Antiseptics are different from antibiotics because they arent targeted weapons. Instead, they are harsh chemicals that kill just about everything. Antiseptics are helpful for cleaning surfaces, because they can kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites but they also harm living cells. For that reason, antiseptics cant be taken as medication.
You Have Something Physical To Do Tomorrow
Have a marathon you’re running tomorrow morning? Scheduled to host a lengthy and involved presentation at work all day? You may want to wait to get your flu shot. While it’s been proven that the flu shot won’t give you the flu, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there are some side effects you may feel for a few days after getting the vaccine. These side effects may include:
- Redness, swelling, or pain at the flu shot injection site
- Upset stomach
- Muscle aches
In some cases, you may not feel any negative side effects after getting your flu shot. However, if you can plan your shot around a slow week, it may be best, just in case you feel a little under the weather after getting your vaccine.
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If You Get Your Flu Vaccine When Youre Sick Will You Feel Worse
Not necessarily. If you have a stuffy nose or another mild issue, Dr. Murphy says youll probably feel just fine. But if youre not feeling so hot and you get your flu vaccine, you could feel a little yuckier than usual afterward.
In general, some people feel a bit unwell after vaccines as part of the immune responsethey may feel tired, achy, etc. for a day, Dr. Cennimo says. If they go into this sick already, they may feel worse. If you have a fever when you get your flu shotwhich, again, isnt recommendedyou could confuse that with side effects from the vaccine, he points out.
Some People May Need More Than One Influenza Vaccine Each Year
There are some people who are recommended to have a second dose of the flu vaccine within the space of one year.
- Children less than 9 years receiving their flu vaccine for the first time require 2 doses 4 weeks apart for an adequate immune response.
- People who have had a haematopoietic stem cell transplant or solid organ transplant and are receiving the flu vaccine for the first time after transplant.
- Pregnant women, who may be vaccinated with the next seasons flu vaccine if it becomes available in the latter part of their pregnancy, even if they were vaccinated with the previous seasons vaccine prior to or earlier in pregnancy.
- Overseas travellers, who may benefit from a second dose of this seasons flu vaccine if going to the northern hemisphere winter and receiving the northern hemisphere formulation there is not feasible.
Please check with your GP, pharmacist, or other immunisation provider to find out whether you fall into one of these categories.
Should I Avoid Antibiotics Altogether
Not at all. Antibiotics can save people’s lives, and if you need them, you should get them as quickly as you can. Since only a doctor can prescribe antibiotics, this means that you should talk to your doctor if you think you might need them .
However, it is the grave over-reliance and inappropriate use of antibiotics that have contributed to the global antibiotic resistance crisis that we face.
A study by the CDC showed that many adults believe that if they are sick enough to see a doctor for a cold, they should get an antibiotic treatment. The study also showed that patients are not aware of the consequences of taking the drugs if they are not needed. And when antibiotics are misused, bacteria can become resistant.
So Can You Get A Flu Shot When Youre Sick
Pull up a seatweve got a few things to cover here. While the CDC is kinda-totally vague about whether its okay to get a flu shot when youre sick, the CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has general vaccine info that addresses whether its okay to receive any vaccine when youre not feeling well.
The language is a little medical jargony, but it says that a lot boils down to how severe your symptoms are and what kind of illness you have. The safety and efficacy of vaccinating persons who have mild illnesses have been documented, the ACIP says, adding that, vaccination should be deferred for persons with a moderate or severe acute illness.
In general, if you have a little cold or the sniffles, its okay to proceed with a flu shot.Timothy Murphy, MD
Here’s how you can break that all down: In general, if you have a little cold or the sniffles, its okay to proceed with a flu shot, says Timothy Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. To a certain extent, its a judgment call, depending on how bad youre feeling.
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Dr Fauci Says Some Tylenol After The Vaccine Should Be Ok
Aches and pains are a common side effect of the COVID vaccine. “If someone gets achy or gets a headache and it’s really bothering you, I mean, I would believe as a physician that I would have no trouble taking a couple of Tylenol for that,” he said. “So again, people are going to come back and forth and say, well, it could mute or dampen the immunological response to the vaccine itself. I don’t see any biological mechanisms why something like Tylenol would not do that.”
Children Between Six Months And Eight Years Old Need Something Else
If your child is between six months and eight years old, he or she doesn’t need one regular flu vaccine but may need two doses of the flu shot. Children in this age bracket are more susceptible to experiencing complications from the flu and one single dose of the vaccine may not be enough to build their immunity for flu season. The CDC warns, “Children 2 years of age up to their 5th birthday are more likely than healthy older children to be taken to a doctor, an urgent care center, or the emergency room because of the flu.”
Children within this age bracket who are being vaccinated for the first time or who had only one flu shot last season should get two doses of the vaccine. The CDC recommends obtaining the second dose at least 28 days after the first dose has been given. The first dose primes the child’s immune system while the second dose provides immune protection for the season. Since this process takes longer and the flu shot doesn’t begin protecting against the illness until two weeks after it’s administered, take your child in early. Consider getting your child’s first flu shot as soon as the vaccines become available for the season.
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Connection Between Vaccine Response And Preexisting Immunity
The response to the flu vaccine differed between the two groups. All of the first 22 volunteers from 201415 turned out to have high levels of flu antibodies to begin with. So, whether they took antibiotics or not, they had a preexisting immunity to that seasons flu virus strain.
In the 201516 group, however, all selected participants had low levels of flu antibodies at the start and low immunity. None had received a flu vaccination in the three years prior. After getting the flu shot, those who also took the antibiotics had a significant drop in antibodies that would protect them from the H1N1 virus.
Study authors suggest that if these individuals were exposed to this H1N1 virus after vaccination, they would most likely be less protected against getting the flu than people who had not received antibiotics.
Interestingly, the effect on the vaccine response was seen only in people with low levels of preexisting immunity to this vaccine, says Embry. Its important to note that the antibiotic treatment did not appear to significantly impact the immune responses in those who had higher levels of preexisting immunity to influenza.
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 get an invitation to get the vaccine, 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. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book an appointment for when more vaccines are available.
If you have an appointment for a COVID-19 booster vaccine at a GP surgery or pharmacy, you may also be offered a flu vaccine at the same time.
Do not delay booking your flu vaccine appointment so that you can get both vaccines together. Only some people will be offered both vaccines at the same time.
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Which Booster Should I Get
CDC recommendations include a preference for individuals to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine . The J& J/Janssen vaccine is authorized for use in individuals age 18 years and older who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine, and is also authorized for use as a heterologous single booster dose for individuals age 18 years and older following completion of primary vaccination with a different COVID-19 vaccine.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not authorized for booster doses.
You Should Still Get The Flu Vaccine
The findings, Pulendran says, imply that when next seasons flu strain comes along, you want your gut-resident microbes to be in full bloom in order for your immune system to rise to the occasion. Pulendran offers some advice. Get your annual flu shot, he says. The greater your inventory of immune memory to influenza strains bearing any resemblance to the one thats coming over the hill, the more likely youll be able to deal with it, even if your gut microbes are in short supply.
Other investigators at Emory University, as well as researchers at the Ragon Institute, the University of Chicago, Georgia State University, and the Food and Drug Administration contributed to the work. The study appears in Cell.
Funding came from the National Institutes of Health, the Soffer Endowment, and the Violetta Horton Endowment. Stanfords departments of Pathology and of Microbiology and Immunology also supported the work.
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How The Influenza Vaccine Works
The influenza viruses change every year because the influenza virus has a unique ability to change its surface structure. This means that even if you had the flu or an immunisation one year, your bodys immune system might be unable to fight the changed version of the virus that will be circulating the following year.
Each year, a new vaccine is developed and is available for those who wish to be immunised. The seasonal flu vaccine includes protection against four strains of influenza viruses.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu because it does not contain live virus. Some people may still contract the flu because the vaccine may not always protect against all strains of the influenza virus circulating in the community.
Who Shouldn’t Get A Flu Shot
Some people shouldn’t get a flu shot, regardless of whether they’re sick at the time. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if any of these apply to you or your child:
- Being under 6 months of age
- Previous severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine
- If you’ve ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome
In these situations, talk to your healthcare provider about whether the flu vaccine is safe for you.
Cold and Flu Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
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When To Get The Influenza Vaccine
Yearly vaccination before the onset of each flu season is recommended. In most parts of Australia, flu season occurs from June to September, with the flu vaccine typically available from April.
Recent evidence suggests optimal protection against the flu occurs within the first 3-4 months following vaccination. It is important to note that, while the influenza virus continues to circulate, it is never too late to vaccinate.
Rare Side Effects Of The Influenza Vaccine
There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction to any vaccine. This is why you are advised to stay at the clinic, medical surgery, or pharmacy for at least 15 minutes following vaccination in case further treatment is required.
Apart from anaphylaxis, other extremely rare side effects include in children.
A small increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome was seen in the US in 1976, but since that time, surveillance has shown that it is limited to one case for every million doses of the flu vaccine, if at all.
If any other reactions are severe and persistent, or if you are worried, contact your doctor for further information.
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