Eligibility For Flu Vaccination
You can get a free flu vaccine if you are:
- aged 50 years old and over
- have certain health conditions
- live with someone who is immunocompromised
- are pregnant
- receive a carers allowance or are the main carer of an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
Children aged 2 and 3 years old on the 31 August 2021 and school-aged child from Reception up to Year 11 are also eligible for the flu vaccine.
You can get the flu vaccine at your GP surgery or a pharmacy, if youre a health or social care worker employed by a:
- registered residential care or nursing home
- registered homecare organisation
Or if you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets.
Visit NHS.UK to check whether you are eligible.
Where To Get The Flu Vaccine
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
- a hospital appointment
If you do not have your flu vaccine at your GP surgery, you do not have to tell the surgery. This will be done for you.
It’s important to go to your vaccination appointments unless you have symptoms of COVID-19.
What About Those Who Got The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine For Their First Shot
According to UCSF’s Wachter, it’s still too early to know how protected those who received the J& J vaccine are. “There’s always someone who got J& J and says, ‘What about me?’ And the answer is, we have no idea,” Wachter said. “Do they need a third shot? I think that question is going to be important to answer.”
According to a Dec. 29 study by the South African Medical Research Council, for individuals who received one dose of the J& J vaccine, known as Ad26.COV.2, a booster delivered six to nine months later raised their odds against hospitalization from 63% to 85%
It’s the earliest proof of the Johnson & Johnson booster’s effectiveness, the author of the non-peer-reviewed study wrote. And it comes at a time when the more contagious omicron variant is running rampant. In the period examined mid-November to mid-December 2021 omicron infections in South Africa represented 98% of all confirmed COVID cases, according to GISAID.
It’s possible the J& J vaccine, associated with a rare but serious blood-clotting issue, may make a better candidate for a booster, regardless of which vaccine you initially received. A new analysis of “mixing-and-matching” shots conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found a J& J booster given to individuals who initially received two doses of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine generated a 41-fold increase in antibody response within a month, compared to only a 17-fold increase when given another Pfizer jab.
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Increasing Research And Development Spend
Despite those horrific statistics, R& D toward improved flu vaccines, as well as funding, has been relatively paltry and largely confined to academia, biotech startups, and the National Institutes of Health .
The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases unit has an annual budget of about $220 million for the universal flu vaccine, a chunk of it dispersed as grants to the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers, or CIVICs, launched in 2019. By comparison, the NIH earmarked nearly $7 billion for researching cancer, which claimed 606,520 lives in 2020.
Last November, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey reintroduced the Flu Vaccine Act, a bill proposing an investment of $1 billion for the NIH’s flu research projects, including external collaborations.
There are dozens of other flu vaccine R& D projects underway in the U.S., some in search of what are known as supra-seasonal shots that could prevent recipients from becoming infected for several years. A promising program is underway at the University of Washington’s Medicine Institute for Protein Design in Seattle by a team led by Neil King, an assistant professor of biochemistry at the university’s School of Medicine, using computers to design new, self-assembling protein nanoparticles to produce a vaccine.
Who Can Get Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine
All flu vaccines in the United States for the 2021-2022 season are quadrivalent vaccines. Different vaccines are approved for different age groups. There is a quadrivalent flu shot that can be given to children as young as 6 months old. Flucelvax Quadrivalent is now approved for people 6 months and older. More information on approved flu vaccines for the 2020-2021 flu season, and age indications for each vaccine are available in CDCs Table: U.S. Influenza Vaccine Products for the 2020-2021 Season.
The quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 years through 49 years old. People with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray influenza vaccine.
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What Should You Do Now
Some people may receive an invitation to come forward for a vaccination from their GP surgery or by a national letter. However, you do not have to wait to be invited before booking an appointment at your GP or pharmacy.
If you are eligible for a flu vaccine but cant have the flu vaccine now because you have been advised that the best vaccine for you is not currently available, please follow the advice from your GP surgery or pharmacy and remember to book in an appointment at the next opportunity.
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.
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The Best Flu Vaccine If You Have Egg Allergies
Many flu vaccines are made using chicken eggs called egg-based vaccines. While most people with egg allergies are still able to receive egg-based flu vaccines, there are rare instances where they can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. If this is the case for you or if youre concerned, Flucelvax Quadrivalent and Flublok Quadrivalent are two egg-free flu vaccine options.
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.
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How Safe Is The Flu Vaccine
The influenza vaccine is very safe. It cannot cause the flu. Side effects are usually mild and can include:
- mild soreness where the needle went into the arm for 1 to 2 days.
- a mild fever or aches for the first day or 2 after immunization.
Do not give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen before or around the time of vaccination as it does not prevent the pain of injection and it could have an impact on how well the vaccine works. These medications can be used to treat fever, pain, or other bothersome side effects if they develop after vaccination.
Special Consideration Regarding Egg Allergy
People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are available: quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.
Its best to be vaccinated before flu begins spreading in your community. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. However, even if you are not able to get vaccinated until November or later, vaccination is still recommended because flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May.
Additional considerations concerning the timing of vaccination for certain groups include:
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Is It Too Late To Get The Flu Shot And How Effective Is It In 2021
Public attention may understandably be focused on COVID and the Omicron variant this winter season, but the flu is still circulating.
In November, the University of Michigan reported an outbreak of a flu type known as influenza A or H3N2. It affected at least 745 people within the university between October 6 and November 19, and one person was hospitalized.
Following an investigation into the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that it highlighted “the importance of increasing vigilance for influenza disease this winter” especially with COVID already putting stress on healthcare systems.
The health agency noted that one measure to help mitigate influenza severity is the flu vaccine.
Typically, people get a flu vaccine before the flu season actually starts, rather than during it. Flu activity varies but it tends to start increasing in October before peaking some time between December and February.
Yet while we may be well into the flu season at the moment, it is still not too late to get a flu vaccine according to the CDC, which states that “even if you are not able to get vaccinated until November or later, vaccination is still recommended because flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May.”
Ive Heard Some Things That Make Me Hesitate About Getting A Flu Shot Like Getting A Flu Shot Can Give You The Flu Should I Worry
Most years only about half of Americans get flu shots, notes Chen. The most common reason that I hear about why people dont want a flu shot is that they got a flu shot once and got the flu afterward, he says. Let me be clear: Flu shots do not give you the flu.
There are a few reasons why someone might feel like theyve gotten sick because of the shot.
Some people may experience flu symptoms after being vaccinated because they become ill from different respiratory viruses such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold, he says.
Its also possible to become ill with the flu shortly after being vaccinated because it takes up to two weeks for the body to develop immune protection after the shot, notes the CDC.
Flu vaccines do vary in how well they work, so its also possible for people who are vaccinated to still get sick. Even if that happens, however, research shows that the vaccine can still help by reducing the severity of the flu in people who got the flu in spite of having been vaccinated.
One study published in the journal Vaccine, for example, found that among adults hospitalized in New Zealand from 2012 to 2015 with the flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated.
The people who did end up in the ICU with the flu spent an average of four fewer days in the hospital if they had received the flu shot compared with those who didnt.
If You Get The Flu Shot Too Early Can It Wear Off Before Flu Season Is Over
There is some truth to the concept that the flu shot can lose its effectiveness over time, says Chen. In general, we dont recommend people getting the flu shot in July or August, he adds. Its a good idea to wait until the middle of September.
Given that this year there will be a greater number of susceptible people, coupled with kids going back to school, the flu could potentially peak earlier than usual, notes Klein. I wouldnt recommend waiting until late November to get the flu shot, he says.
Although some lab tests have suggested that the vaccines effectiveness might fade after six months or so, there is a lot of individual variability, says Stuart Ray, MD, an infectious disease physician at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Plus, even if the vaccine wears off a bit, you will still have immune memory that will reawaken and contribute to protection against a severe infection, he explains.
Why Are Some People Still Being Offered The Vaccine And Not Others
There are several types of flu vaccines available. You will be offered one that is recommended for you based on your age. This means some people will be offered a flu vaccine that is in stock while others, who need a different type of vaccine, may have to wait until that vaccine becomes available, but this will be before the flu virus begins to circulate.
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How Flu Shots Work
“Like all vaccinations, the flu shot aims to provide a susceptible individual a ‘boost’ to their non-existent or waning immunity to a particular infection by presenting a non-infectious version of a pathogen,” says Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director for infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Mission Hospital in Orange County, California.
In the case of the flu shot, this “means that the vaccine contains killed flu virus. Different strains of influenza virus are included, including the ones we know have caused the most death and disability in the past and those predicted to be most prevalent in the forthcoming season,” says Dr. Supriya Narasimhan, an epidemiologist and chief of infectious diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California.
It’s important to note that the viral particles contained in the vaccine are inactivated, which means the vaccine “cannot cause the flu.” The immune system “develops antibodies when the body is exposed to the flu virus antigens in the inactivated vaccine in about two weeks,” Narasimhan says.
The substance being introduced to the body by the vaccine is incapable of causing the infection, but it helps the immune system identify and remember that this agent is something that it should fight off. Vaccines “train or retrain the immune system to respond to infectious pathogens in a prompt, robust and targeted fashion if and whenever it’s presented with this organism in the future,” Bailey says.
What About Children And Pregnant Women
The C.D.C. estimates that the flu has killed 12,000 to 61,000 people a year since 2010.
About 80 percent of children who have died of influenza in past years had not been vaccinated, according to research cited this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The flu has the capacity to take a perfectly normal child and put them in the emergency room in 48 hours, Dr. Schaffner said. Children have died from the flu when they became septic or got pneumonia, he said.
A big factor for the low flu numbers last season was that children were attending school remotely and avoiding groups, he said.
Children are really the great disseminators of the influenza virus, Dr. Schaffner said. They shed more virus than do adults, and they shed the virus for a longer period of time. They spread it among themselves and then bring it home.
This academic year, many children are going back to in-person learning, and some are not required to wear masks.
If children who havent gotten a flu shot get the flu, they should still be vaccinated when they recover. Experts added that children sick with Covid-19 should not get the flu vaccine until they have recovered.
They also recommend pregnant women get the flu vaccine, as its protection passes through the placenta.
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Flu Shot Timing: What’s Optimal
Aug. 30, 2021 — Amid fresh national recommendations for COVID booster shots to ramp up waning immunity, new research examining the durability of flu vaccination indicates significantly dwindling protection just months after inoculation.
Maximum influenza vaccine efficacy in adults occurred shortly after vaccination, followed by an average decline of 8% to 9% each month and an even swifter drop among older adults.
Even a 1- or 2-month delay in annual flu vaccination could improve vaccine effectiveness by 10% to 20%, according to the study, published August 15 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Analyzing vaccine timing relative to influenza-associated hospitalizations among more than 5500 adults, the findings are broadly consistent with both early and more recent studies, says study author Jill Ferdinands, PhD, an epidemiologist in the Influenza Division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.
“These findings are not surprising,” Ferdinands tells Medscape Medical News. “In the very first successful trial of inactivated influenza vaccine in 1943, the study’s authors observed that antibodies to influenza declined by about one third within 4 to 5 months after vaccination.”
But “a better understanding of waning immunity, like the information gained by this study, could help further optimize the recommendation,” she says.
He says the COVID pandemic might prove to “actually be a shot in the arm for influenza vaccine research.”