In Some Cases It Might Pay To Wait Before You Vaccinate
The nations last flu season was less severe than the 2017 to 2018 season, which sickened an estimated 48.8 million people. But it was still plenty dangerous.
Early data suggests that it caused between 37 million and 43 million illnesses, and an estimated 36,400 to 61,200 deaths in the U.S. And it was the longest flu season in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No one is sure what the upcoming flu season will bring, but there is certainty that the flu vaccine continues to be the best way to protect yourself from getting sick. So, should you get that flu shot now?
According to William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, getting it later in September or October may be the best choice for most people.
Heres what to know and how to decide.
Flu Shot Supply And Demand
Manufacturers have boosted flu shot production to meet the high demand for the season.
A record 175 million doses were distributed for the 20192020 season. That number will rise to between 194 million and 198 million doses for the upcoming season, the CDC reported.
Rite Aid raised vaccine doses by 40 percent. Walmart and Walgreens said they expect more demand this autumn, Reuters reported.
Walgreens anticipates demand to rise by 30 to 50 percent. CVS expects to dole out more than double the number of vaccines compared to other seasons, according to USA Today.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 60 percent of U.S. adults plan to get a flu shot in the fall. During the 20182019 flu season,
What About Coronavirus Precautions
The C.D.C. has released safety guidelines for all health care providers. So as long as your provider is following these guidelines, it is safe to get your shot there. For example, Dr. Ban said, Walgreens has implemented rigorous cleaning protocols and is checking patients for symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Pharmacists who administer the shots wear both a face mask and a face shield, and patients are required to wear a mask.
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Is The Vaccine Effective
Every year, there will be some people who have received a vaccine but go on to contract the flu. Variations in the makeup of the jab mean that immunity can range from 30-90%. This is because different flu strains and variants exist and scientists monitor these closely in the hope of predicting the likely makeup of seasonal flu. As there is a degree of estimation in these calculations, some years a vaccine proves more effective than others.
Can I Get My Flu Shot And A Covid
Yes, people can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot during the same visit, says the CDC.
Previously, the CDC had recommended getting your COVID-19 shot at least two weeks before or after any other vaccinations. But that guideline was made out an abundance of caution when the COVID-19 vaccines were new, says the agency. Spacing out the vaccines is no longer considered necessary.
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Flu Surveillance Data Updates
Were there any updates in the methods for flu surveillance for 2020-2021?
For the 2020-2021 flu season, there were some changes to FluView surveillance methodology.
In addition to state-level data, the influenza-like-illness activity map displayed ILI activity by Core-based Statistical Areas , a U.S. geographic area defined by the Office of Management and Budget that consists of one or more counties anchored by an urban center of at least 10,000 people plus adjacent counties that are socioeconomically tied to the urban center by commuting.
Also, during most flu seasons, state and territorial health departments report the level of geographic spread of flu activity in their jurisdictions each week through the State and Territorial Epidemiologists Report. However, because COVID-19 and influenza have similar symptoms and it is difficult to differentiate the two without laboratory testing, reporting for this system was suspended for the 2020-21 influenza season.
More information on flu surveillance methodology and these updates is available online.
Why was pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19 mortality data added to FluView Interactive?
Who Should Have The Vaccine
In 2021/22 flu season, the following people are eligible to receive the flu vaccine for free:
- All children aged 2 to 15 on 31st Aug 2021
- Those aged 50 years or over
- 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
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.
Your doctor may recommend the flu vaccine in other circumstances as well.
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Theres Hardly Any Flu In My Area Right Now Can I Wait To Get My Flu Shot
You shouldnt wait until flu activity is high in your community before you get a shot, says the CDC.
While there may not be any cases of flu in your area right now, the virus can start spreading at any time.
Keep in mind, too, that you dont become immune to the flu as soon as you get the shot. Your body takes about two weeks to develop antibodies that protect against flu.
Ideally, you should get vaccinated against flu by the end of October so youre protected once the flu arrives in your community.
When Are Flu Shots Available
Vaccines are usually available in August, but the timing may not be the same every year. A new flu vaccine is manufactured every season, explains Tom Skinner, a senior public affairs officer for the CDC. The CDC, along with other organizations, studies virus samples collected from around the world to identify the influenza viruses that are the most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season. Production varies and depends upon on a number of factors, including the viruses chosen for inclusion in the vaccine.
Flu vaccines are now available for the 2021-2022 flu season at major retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid as well as VA medical facilities.
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Should I Wait To Get A Flu Shot If I’m Getting A Covid Vaccine Or Booster
There’s no need to choose. Not only should you be vaccinated against both COVID and influenza, but you can even get the shots on the same day if you like.
When the COVID vaccines first became available, people were advised not to get any other vaccines for at least two weeks afterwards. That was because the COVID shots were so new that it was important to keep track of what side effects they were causing.
But the COVID vaccine has proved to be extraordinarily safe, and experts now say that it’s fine to get other vaccines at the same time or soon afterwards. In fact, in September, two major pharmaceutical companies and Modernaannounced that they were developing combined COVID booster and flu vaccine shots. The new combos, though, won’t be available in time for this flu season.
Experts advise that if you do get a COVID shot and a flu shot on the same day that you don’t have them both in the same arm to minimize soreness.
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A Pharmacy Or Grocery Store Can Be A Fast Way To Get A Flu Shot But Are Places Like These Safe
Yes, its perfectly safe to get your flu shot at your local pharmacy or grocery store, provided the workers and nearby patrons are following COVID-19 safety guidelines, says Chen.
CVS Pharmacy, for instance, offers flu shots for walk-in patients or by appointment, and ensures safety with the following precautions:
- All staff, patients, and outside customers must abide by physical distancing guidelines.
- Pharmacists wear masks, gloves, and face shields.
- Patients are required to wear face coverings and answer COVID-19 screening questions.
The more convenient getting a flu shot is, the more people will get one, Chen adds. VaccineFinder can show you locations in your area that offer flu shots.
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Flu Vaccines During The Covid
Did we need to get a flu vaccine earlier during the 2020-2021 flu season ?
There was no change in CDCs recommendation on timing of vaccination last flu season. Getting vaccinated in July or August is too early, especially for older people, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu later in the flu season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.
More information for vaccination timing for the 2020-2021 flu season
Were there changes in how and where flu vaccines were given in fall and winter or 2020-2021?
Prior to the 2020-2021 flu season, CDC worked with health care providers and state and local health departments to develop contingency plans on how to vaccinate people against flu without increasing their risk of exposure to respiratory disease, like the virus that causes COVID-19. This included releasing Interim Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Preliminary coverage data from September 2020 suggest there were some changes in where people got vaccinated early in 2020-2021. For example, the proportion of people reporting getting a flu vaccination at a store was significantly higher than the equivalent proportion for the 201920 season , and the proportion reporting vaccination at a doctors office was significantly lower than 201920 .
This recommendation has since been .
When To Get Your Flu Shot
The CDC recommends getting your flu shot in early fall, between now and the end of October. That part is normal: The timing helps prepare your immune system before flu activity peaks, usually between December and February.
“Similar to the Covid vaccine, it takes a couple of weeks after you’ve had the vaccine for your immune system to respond,” Rock says. “So, you want to make sure that you have adequate immunity when we start into the flu season.”
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Is There More Than 1 Type Of Flu Shot
For the 2021-2022 flu season, there are 6 flu vaccine options. If you are 65 years or older or if you have a severe egg allergy, you should talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the different options available to you. The links below will take you to the CDCs website for more information on each type of vaccine.
Ask An Expert: Should I Get A Flu Shot If Im Getting A Covid Vaccine Booster
The 2021 flu season is hitting us at the same time that millions of Americans are considering a COVID-19 booster vaccination.
The FDA has endorsed a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by people with certain health conditions that compromise their immune systems, and for people age 65 and older.
In August, we spoke with Dr. Anita Skariah, UNC Health internist and pediatrician, to get answers to questions about the need for both flu shots and COVID vaccines. In short, she did recommend getting both the COVID and influenza vaccinations.
So we checked back in with her this week to see if recommendations are any different when it comes to getting a COVID booster shot.
We recap Skariahs recommends regarding flu shots, along with new thoughts on COVID vaccines and boosters.
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Can A Flu Vaccine Give Me The Flu
No. The way that flu vaccines are made, they cannot cause the flu. Flu shots are made from either flu viruses that have been inactivated OR with proteins from a flu virus. .
Nasal spray flu vaccine is made with weakened live flu viruses, and also cannot cause the flu. The weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they can only cause flu infection at the cooler temperatures found in your nose. These viruses cannot infect your lungs or other warmer areas of your body.
While some people may get mild side effects from the flu shot like a sore arm, a headache, muscle aches or a low fever, those side effects usually begin soon after the shot and only last 1 -2 days. These are actually signs that the vaccine is working and your body is building immunity.
If Flu Numbers Are Low Do You Really Need To Get The Shot
“You do. We didn’t have a lot of flu last year, so we didn’t build up any immunity from the flu last year. So experts are a little bit worried it could be worse for us, for that reason,” Azar stressed. She added that getting a flu vaccination cuts down on the amount of flu circulating in a community, which benefits everyone.
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Flu Vaccination During A Pandemic
We dont know what to expect this flu season given the pandemic, making it especially important to get your influenza vaccine, said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD, an infectious disease professor at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital and deputy director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds.
There is research found COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus can also coexist.
It is unknown how commonly this could occur, how it would impact disease severity, and what groups would be most susceptible, Schultz-Cherry said.
We have seen the impact that a bad flu season has on our health care system. I cant imagine the effect that co-circulation of both viruses would have on our system.
Receiving a flu shot could make it easier to tell if you have COVID-19 in the event you get sick, as both illnesses have similar symptoms.
Getting the vaccine would decrease the chances that any disease signs are from a flu infection, she said.
Citing a in the Southern Hemisphere, Dr. Ingrid T. Katz, associate faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said she was hopeful for a mild flu season in the United States.
The precautions we are taking as a society to prevent acquiring COVID-19 is exactly the same way to prevent flu, Katz told Healthline.
Doctor Recommends Waiting Until October For Flu Shot
BATON ROUGE – Some providers are already offering the flu vaccine and shipments will increase in September. With the ongoing pandemic, doctors say this year’s flu vaccine is very important.
“We’re trying to prevent people from having two respiratory infections at the same time,” Baton Rouge General Family Medicine Dr. Rachael Kermis said.
Concerns about flu season are heightened with COVID-19. Kermis says it might be tempting to get that flu vaccine now, but this year it’s recommended that people wait until October if they can.
“Some places have started offering them now in September, but ideally we want you to kind of wait until October, because that way you get about six months of coverage with the flu shot,” she said.
Flu season starts anytime in the late fall, peaks in January or February, and sometimes continues into May. Kermis says by getting the flu shot in October, it extends coverage over when the peak of flu is happening.
“Already, COVID-19 has so many unknowns in how it attacks the body, but we know it hits the lungs pretty hard. And the flu hits the lungs hard as well. So to minimize the risk, we want to get those flu shots,” she said.
Another reason the flu vaccine is extra important this year is to not overwhelm health systems if COVID-19 cases start spiking. The flu vaccine is one of the main ways to prevent the virus. Kermis says in addition to the vaccine, practice good handwashing, wear a mask, and stay away from others who are sick.
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Is The Flu Vaccine Safe
Yes. Flu vaccines have been used for over 50 years and have been safely given to hundreds of millions of people, including pregnant people. Flu vaccines, like all vaccines used in the U.S., are carefully monitored for safety through the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems .
Find answers to more questions about vaccine safety.
Which Flu Vaccine Is The Most Effective
When flu vaccines are being produced, the strains included are standardized by the FDA. Each 2021-2022 vaccine includes:
Two type B viruses
This means that no matter what vaccine you choose, youre being protected against the same strains. Flu vaccines are typically between 40% and 60% effective from year to year. But when it comes to picking the right flu vaccine for you, you have to take other factors into account.
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Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of getting a previous influenza vaccine.
- Influenza vaccine is not approved for use in children less than 6 months of age.
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.