Increase The Proportion Of People Who Get The Flu Vaccine Every Year Iid09
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Baseline:49.2 percent of persons aged 6 months and over were vaccinated against seasonal influenza for the flu season 2017-18
Increase the proportion of persons who are vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza
How The Influenza Virus Mutates
DNA is made of two strands the double helix you may have heard of and each strand has building blocks that match in pairs.
The flu viruss genetic material, called RNA, is similar to DNA but with one crucial difference. RNA viruses dont have proofreading capacity, Dr. Karron said.
If for some reason the machinery that puts in the building blocks is wrong in DNA and it doesnt match, it has to be fixed, Dr. Karron said. But RNA has only one strand.
In RNA, if theres a mistake, it doesnt have to be corrected to survive, Dr. Karron said. The viruses play this roulette. Its not that they know which changes will outwit the human immune system, but theyre replicating very rapidly.
So rapidly that lots of mistakes mutations occur. Hijacked cells release new viruses after just six hours.
If theres a change in one of those viruses that the human immune system doesnt recognize so well, that gives that virus an advantage, Dr. Karron said. Those changes often happen in two proteins, called hemagglutinin and neuraminidase , the H and the N in flu names like H1N1. These proteins are also the parts of the flu virus that the immune system recognizes the trench coats so viruses with a slightly different HA or NA can escape the immune systems attention.
Its evolution at work: Tiny mutations help the virus evade detection, and as it evades detection, its more successful at multiplying.
Meet The Influenza Virus
Like all viruses, the flu virus has one goal: replicate. And it can do that only by hijacking other cells. The virus enters a cell and takes over, shutting off the cells antiviral response and then using the cells machinery to make copies of itself. Its like bootleggers sneaking booze into a coffee shop, turning off the burglar alarm and using the kitchen to make cocktails instead of cappuccinos.
Once the immune system learns what a flu virus looks like whether from a vaccine or a past infection it seeks out and destroys flu viruses before they enter more cells. But the virus needs to replicate to keep surviving. If the parts the immune system recognizes change slightly, the immune system wont see the virus.
And the flu virus gets lots of chances to change its wardrobe every time it replicates. Those wardrobe changes are mutations.
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Who Should Get A Flu Vaccine This Season
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza. A full listing of people at Higher Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications is available.
Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people.
- There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months old and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older.
- Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant people who are 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.
There are many vaccine options to choose from. CDC does not recommend any one flu vaccine over another. The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.
If you have questions about which flu vaccine to get, talk to your doctor or other health care professional. More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated.
Why Does The Flu Shots Effectiveness Vary So Much
The flu shots effectiveness has a bit to do with timing and educated guessing. This is because public health scientists and flu virus researchers have to predict 6 months in advance what we think the next years flu virus will look like.
You might be wondering how these predictions are made. Around February of each year, experts with the World Health Organization review data from the last flu season to make an educated guess about what strains are most likely to circulate during the next flu season. These experts then recommend which strains should be covered in the new flu shot. This gives the flu shot manufacturers the 6 months that they need to prepare the new flu shot. In late summer, the seasonal flu shot is typically ready to be given out.
In some seasons, the prediction of the strains matches the reality of the strains spreading in the community. When this happens, the vaccine is very effective. In other seasons, the flu virus may mutate, and strains that are not covered by the vaccine may cause the most illness. In these seasons, the flu shot is less effective.
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Reasons To Refuse The Vaccine
- The most common reason across all adults for not getting their flu shot was they were healthy and/or never had the flu .
- Among adults aged 1864 years with chronic medical conditions, not getting around to the vaccine was the most commonly provided response for not getting the flu shot .
- Among seniors, concerns about vaccine safety was the most common reason for not receiving the flu shot .
Who Shouldnt Get Vaccinated
If youre currently feeling sick, its best to wait until youre better.
Avoid the flu shot if you have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients that may be used in the vaccine, such as:
- egg protein
- monosodium glutamate , a stabilizer that keeps vaccines from losing their potency
- antibiotics, such as neomycin and gentamicin
- polysorbate 80, an emulsifier which keeps the ingredients from separating
- formaldehyde, which inactivates the flu virus
Babies under 6 months old shouldnt be vaccinated.
If youve had Guillain-Barré syndrome, talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine.
The nasal spray contains a weakened live virus. It shouldnt be taken by people who:
- are younger than 2 or older than 50 years
- are 2 to 4 years old and have asthma
- are 2 to 17 years old and take medications containing aspirin or salicylate
- are pregnant
- have life threatening allergies to the flu vaccine
- have a suppressed immune system
- are in close contact with someone with a suppressed immune system
- have taken antiviral drugs for the flu within the previous 48 hours
Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of the nasal spray vaccine if you have:
- asthma or chronic lung disease
- a blood disorder
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Who Needs A Flu Shot
Everyone should get a flu shot. Certain populations are at particular risk of developing serious flu complications and should make every effort to be vaccinated. These include the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, young children, and pregnant women. Children older than six months can receive the vaccine.
Complications can include severe symptoms that require hospitalization, pneumonia, and even death. In 2017, 80,000 people died from influenza.
The Flu Vaccine Does Not Offer Year
The antibodies your immune system produces after getting a flu shot decline over time. There’s some evidence that immunity starts to wane within as little as six months, especially for people with less robust immune systems. A flu shot in October would therefore offer protection through the bulk of flu season.
And because flu strains evolve so rapidly, doctors say it’s important to get a new flu shot at the start of each flu season, not just on an annual basis.
That means that even if you get a shot late in the season in the early spring, for example – you’ll still need a new one at the start of the next flu season meaning several months later, in the fall.
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Should I Get The Flu Vaccine If I’m Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
Years of studies and observation show that you can safely get a flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Babies cannot get the vaccine until six months old. Because antibodies from the vaccine pass onto a fetus in the womb and through breast milk, you protect your baby even more by getting vaccinated.
Pregnant people should not get the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine. Those with a life-threatening egg allergy should not get the flu vaccine, whether pregnant or not.
What Is The Flu
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness thats caused by the influenza virus. There are two main types of influenza virus: type A and type B. These main types are further subdivided into multiple subtypes and strains, including the well-known H1N1 strain. The effect each of these strains may have on you depends on your age and overall health.
If you have the flu, symptoms may include:
In more extreme cases, you may experience vomiting and diarrhea. Although symptoms tend to emerge suddenly, you may find yourself experiencing a milder version in the early stages of the virus. Its also important to note that you may be a carrier for the virus even if you arent experiencing any symptoms yourself.
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The Sheer Number Of Deaths Was Surprising
The first time I had the flu shot was in 2014. I was pregnant with my first child and was offered a free flu shot by my antenatal care team.
But it wasnt until I was pregnant with my second child and had the free flu shot again that I really started to think about getting the vaccination every year.
My second flu shot coincided with leaving my research career behind and starting as an editor at Medical News Today. I wrote a series of articles that year about the common cold and flu that required the obligatory research to understand the topic.
What I read came as a real surprise. While I knew that people die each winter from the flu, I was unprepared for the numbers that I encountered.
The estimate that 290,000650,000 people die from seasonal flu every year.
Meanwhile, the CDC estimate that the 2017-2018 flu season led to 61,000 deaths in the U.S.
The numbers fluctuate each year because influenza constantly changes. This means that the flu season is more deadly in some years than in others. Some people might call the 2011-2012 season mild compared to other years, but the CDC still estimated 12,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.
While the flu can range from mild to fatal, the CDC indicate that 945 million people in the U.S. become sick with the flu each year. Of this number, 140,000810,000 require treatment in the hospital.
Some people may think that the flu is just a bad cold, but these numbers tell a different story.
To break these chains requires everyones efforts.
The Flu Shot Isn’t That Effective Here’s Why You Should Still Get It
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It decreases community transmission, among other things.
Health officials recommend that everyone 6 months and older, with a few exceptions, get a flu shot each year. Yet, the flu vaccine is far from foolproof, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . If that’s the case, why should you get it?
On average, people who get the flu shot are between 40% and 60% less likely to catch the virus than unvaccinated individuals. So, although the flu shot may not prevent all cases of influenza, it helps protect you from severe infection and death and can help reduce the spread of the virus in communities. Each year from 2010 to 2020, between 12,000 and 52,000 people in the U.S. died of flu, and between 140,000 and 710,000 were hospitalized, according to the CDC. The CDC says that 80% of children who die from the flu are unvaccinated, though there isnt data on vaccination status of adults who die from the flu.
“Only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine,” Katherina Grusich, a spokesperson for the CDC, told Live Science. “Many more people could be protected from flu if more people got vaccinated.”
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Groups Who Should Especially Get The Vaccine
The flu shot can protect you against the flu. Because of this, it can reduce your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. This can lead to serious complications. You should especially receive the flu vaccine this season if youre:
- at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
- capable of spreading the flu to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.
How Big Changes In Viruses Start Pandemics
That whole evolutionary process of small changes helping the flu virus escape the immune system is called antigenic drift. Drifts happen within flu seasons and from one to the next. But theres another much larger, and more sinister, change called antigenic shift. This isnt changing trench coat colors. This is swapping a coat for a bikini.
The flu virus genome has eight separate segments, including one for the HA protein and one for NA. These proteins determine a flu viruss subtype , and nearly all subtypes occur in birds, the natural host of the influenza virus. If two subtypes infect the same cell, their gene segments can mix and match, called reassortment. This often happens in pigs and birds.
Humans often catch flu infections from pigs and birds at places such as state fairs, farms and live animal markets, but these avian and swine viruses dont replicate well in humans.
It has to be readily able to pass from person to person, Dr. Karron said. A lot of these animal-human interfaces that happen are one-off.
But what if a bird virus and a human virus end up in the same cell together? Thats called a superinfection . Now reassortment becomes possible.
Thats an antigenic shift reason to worry.
When that happens, you have a pandemic because the human population doesnt have immunity against those viruses, so the viruses can spread very quickly, Dr. Hensley said.
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Matching The Vaccine To The Virus
Vaccination is the best way to prevent contracting the flu.
Other public health measures, which have become the mainstay of preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus, also feature heavily in flu prevention.
These include washing hands frequently, staying away from people who are sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.
But why do we need to get a flu vaccine every year? Influenza viruses mutate frequently, and the changes that these mutations introduce make it hard for our immune system to recognize and fight off new influenza strains and subtypes.
Scientists have to predict which influenza viruses are most likely to circulate during flu season to allow pharmaceutical companies to produce enough vaccine shots.
Each year the vaccine is different. Some years, it matches the circulating viruses better than in others.
In years with a good match, having a flu shot reduces the risk of falling ill with the flu by 4060% in the overall population.
A small research study from 2014 found that children who had received the flu shot during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 flu seasons were 74% less likely to need treatment in a pediatric intensive care unit than those who had not had the vaccine.
In a study of adults aged 18 and over in New Zealand, the researchers found that having a flu vaccine reduced the risk of admission to the intensive care unit by 82%.
However, according to the , having a flu shot can reduce the severity of a persons symptoms if they get the flu.
Who Should Get The Flu Shot
The flu season in Canada normally runs from November to April. Anyone can get the flu, which can sometimes lead to severe complications or death. Some people are at higher risk for complications due to the flu, including:
- young children
- people with certain chronic medical conditions
- pregnant women
The influenza vaccine, also known as the flu shot, is the best way to prevent the disease. Every Canadian aged 6 months or older should get the flu shot every year.
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Can The Flu Vaccine Give Me The Flu
A common worry is that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. This isnt possible.
The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated form of the influenza virus or virus components that cant cause infection. Some individuals do experience side effects that will typically go away in a day or so. These include:
- low-grade fever