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.
Does A Flu Vaccine Increase Your Risk Of Getting Covid
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.
You may have heard about a study published in January 2020 that reported an association between flu vaccination and risk of four commonly circulating seasonal coronaviruses, but not the one that causes COVID-19. This report was later found to be incorrect.
The results from that initial study led researchers in Canada to look at their data to see if they could find similar results in their population. The results from Canadas study showed that flu vaccination did not increase risk for these seasonal coronaviruses. The Canadian findings highlighted the protective benefits of flu vaccination.
The Canadian researchers also identified a flaw in the methods of the first study, noting that it violated the part of study design that compares vaccination rates among patients with and without flu . This flaw led to the incorrect association between flu vaccination and seasonal coronavirus risk. When these researchers reexamined data from the first study using correct methods, they found that flu vaccination did not increase risk for infection with other respiratory viruses, including seasonal coronaviruses.
Can You Get The Flu Vaccine And Covid
You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine during the same visit, according to the CDC and based on extensive research with vaccines, Dr. Carney says. This gives people the opportunity to get vaccinated for both flu and COVID-19 at the same time, increasing their protection against both of these infections.
While there isnt a ton of information or research available on getting the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time, the CDC makes their recommendation based on research into how people react to other combinations of vaccines. Its not clear if getting both vaccines at the same time will increase your chances of having side effects. Early research done in the U.K. of 670 adults shows that people who received their second COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time were more likely to have local reactions, which includes side effects like arm pain and swelling near the injection site, compared to people who only got the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the November 2021 paper published in The Lancet2.
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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.
Myth #: The Flu Shot Doesnt Work
Plenty of research shows that the flu vaccine, while not perfect, does indeed work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , when the vaccine is well-matched against the viruses circulating that year, it slashes the risk of flu illness between 40% and 60%.
Typically, when people claim the flu shot isnt effective or try to argue why you shouldnt get a flu shot, its because they or someone they know got the flu shot but still got sick. The CDC offers up a few explanations for this. For one, they may have been sickened by a different virus, such as rhinovirus, which can cause flu-like symptoms. Or, if they really did get the flu, its likely because they were exposed to the virus shortly before being vaccinated or during the two weeks post-vaccination that are required for the body to build up immunity. Another possibility is they contracted an influenza strain other than those included in the vaccine.
There is also a small chance of getting the flu even when the vaccine is a close match. I wish we could create a vaccine to eradicate this virus forever, but the problem is were dealing with a very sophisticated organism that is constantly mutating, says Eduardo Lopez, MD, head of the nephrology department at Kaiser Permanentes Panorama City Medical Center in California. We try to prepare a cocktail of different antigens every year based on data, and even though it may not be a perfect match, youre better off getting vaccinated.
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The Flu Vaccine Helps Protect You And Your Family From The Flu
Millions of people get influenza every year. While it may be common, seasonal flu is a potentially serious disease. It can lead to hospitalization and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .1 Thats why its recommended to get a flu vaccine every year to help protect yourself and your family.2 The flu vaccine can help:
- Weaken or prevent the flu
- Reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent during seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses1
People At High Risk Of Complications From The Flu
- people with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
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Virus Cases Spike In New York City Jails Where Less Than Half Of Detainees Are Vaccinated
New York Citys jails are experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases as the Omicron variant spreads, gravely threatening detainees at the end of a year that has already seen 16 people die after being held in custody.
According to a letter sent by the departing Correction Department commissioner, Vincent Schiraldi, the coronavirus positivity rate has jumped drastically in the last several days among incarcerated people, only 38 percent of whom are fully vaccinated. Among city residents, 71 percent are fully vaccinated.
Mr. Schiraldis letter, sent on Tuesday to city district attorneys, public defenders and judges, said that the seven-day test positivity rate among incarcerated people had jumped to over 17 percent on Monday from 4.8 percent the previous week. Citywide, the seven-day average positivity rate was 11.2 percent as of Monday.
The risks to the human beings in our custody are at a crisis level, Mr. Schiraldi wrote, adding that the jail population faced an equal or greater level of risk from Covid now as it did at the start of the pandemic.
The department on Tuesday announced that it would suspend in-person visits with detainees as well as programs and services, including religious services, in response to the rise in cases. Officials said they would continue to offer vaccines and boosters to people in custody and to test and quarantine newly admitted detainees.
Jeffery C. Mays contributed reporting.
Myth #: Im Allergic To Eggs So I Cant Get The Flu Shot
Most flu shots produced today use an egg-based manufacturing process that leaves trace amounts of egg protein behind. So, many people with egg allergies assume the vaccine isnt safe for them. Dr. Ilboudo says thats not the case.
The vaccine doesnt actually contain eggs , and people with mild egg allergies can still receive the vaccine, she asserts.
That said, if youve ever had an allergic reaction to a flu shot before, you should talk to your provider before receiving one to avoid any unnecessary complications. Common symptoms indicative of an egg allergy include hives, nasal congestion, vomiting, andrarelyanaphylaxis. If you have a severe egg allergy, the doctor may want you to receive the immunization in a medical facility, such as a doctors office or hospital, where they can recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.
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How Effective Is The Flu Shot
When researchers study vaccines, they’re looking for several types of data that can reveal how well these vaccines work.
- Efficacy is how well a vaccine works in a controlled clinical trial, looking at how many people who got the vaccine ended up getting sick, compared with those who didn’t get the vaccine. If a vaccine has an 80% efficacy at preventing illness, 80% fewer people in the flu-shot group of the clinical trial will get sick.
- Effectiveness is how well the virus works in the real world, usually analyzed through observational studies after a given season is over. Real-world populations are much larger and more variable than those included in clinical trials. If a vaccine has an 80% effectiveness at preventing illness, 80% fewer of the people who get the vaccine will have gotten sick that year.
The average effectiveness at preventing laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza between the 2009-2010 season and 2019-2020 season was about 43%, meaning that people who got the flu vaccine over those years were on average 43% less likely to get sick enough with the flu to go to their doctor and get tested.
Who Is Most At Risk
Complications from the flu can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or heart attacks and, in some cases, death. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
Some people are more vulnerable to complications and hospitalization from the flu:
- babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot, but they’ll get some protection if their parent got the flu shot while they were pregnant
- children under 5 years of age, because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
- people 65 years old and older, because their immune systems are weaker and they are more likely to have an underlying condition that increases their risk
- pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change especially later in pregnancy making them more likely to get seriously ill from the flu
- people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes
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Myth #: The Flu Shot Isnt 100% Effective So Why Bother
On average, the flu shot lowers the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60%, according to the CDC. Some people interpret that as a vaccine failure, and use it as an excuse to skip the shot. Its important to remember, though, that no medical intervention is 100% effective. Some protection is always better than no protection.
Even in a year where the vaccine is only 50% effective, thats a 50% reduction , says Dr. Septimus. If a medical intervention would reduce the risk of a heart attack by 50%, we would all choose it!
How To Treat Flu Vaccine Side Effects If Youre Really Struggling
Although side effects shouldnt last long, theres no shame in wanting to minimize your pain. To deal with any aches or a fever, you can try an over-the-counter pain-reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your arm is really sore, consider icing it to help with inflammation. Getting plenty of sleep, loading up on water, and generally trying to take it easy until you feel a bit better is always a good idea, too.
And if you have any questions about the flu vaccineif and when you should get your flu shot or nasal spray vaccine, if you should be worried about side effects, concerns about allergies, or anything elsedont hesitate to talk it over with a health care professional. Theyre there to help you make the process as seamless as possible.
Additional reporting by Korin Miller
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Who Should And Who Should Not Get A Flu Vaccine
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get an influenza vaccine every season, with rare exceptions. For the 2021-2022 flu season, three main types of influenza vaccines will be available. Two kindsthe inactivated influenza vaccines and the recombinant influenza vaccine are injectable . The third type, the live attenuated influenza vaccine , is given by nasal spray. Different influenza vaccines are approved for different age groups. Some people should not get some types of influenza vaccines, and some people should not receive influenza vaccines at all . Everyone who is vaccinated should receive a vaccine that is appropriate for their age and health status. There is no preference for any one vaccine over another.
This page includes information on who should and who should not get an influenza vaccine, and who should talk to a health care professional before vaccination. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions regarding which influenza vaccines are best for you and your family.
All persons aged 6 months of age and older are recommended for annual flu vaccination, with rare exception.
Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications.
People who can get the flu shot:
Flu shots are appropriate for most people.
People who SHOULD NOT get a flu shot include:
People who SHOULD NOT get a nasal spray vaccine:
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
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Misconceptions About Flu Vaccines
Can a flu vaccine give you flu?
No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated so that they will not cause illness.
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over the others?
For the 2021-2022 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipients age and health status, including inactivated influenza vaccine , recombinant influenza vaccine , or live attenuated nasal spray influenza vaccine with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.
There are many vaccine options to choose from, but 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 vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
Is it better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine?
Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?
Why do some people not feel well after getting a seasonal flu vaccine?
- Carolyn Bridges et al. . Effectiveness and cost-benefit of influenza vaccination of healthy working adults: A randomized controlled trialexternal icon.
What about serious reactions to flu vaccine?
Can vaccinating someone twice provide added immunity?
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.
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You’re Allergic To Gelatin
If you have a gelatin allergy, it’s important to consult with your medical provider before getting a flu shot. According to Dr. Stephanie Albin Leeds, MD, an allergist from Northwell Health, “Gelatin is used in the flu shot, as well as other vaccines, as a stabilizer. Because it is found in the vaccine, those with a known allergy to gelatin can experience allergic reactions, such as hives, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.”
A gelatin allergy is rare, but if you know you are allergic, you can still get the flu shot. However, it should be administered by a board-certified allergist. He or she can observe you after administering the shot and take the necessary steps to reverse an allergic reaction, if one does occur.
What If I’m Pregnant
Just last week there was a study published suggesting that the flu vaccine could be associated with early-term miscarriage in some pregnant women. But this finding is far from conclusive, and doctors still advise pregnant women to get the flu shot.
“Lets be clear: this study does not suggest the flu vaccine can cause an increased risk of miscarriage,” says Dr. Sherry Ross an OB/GYN at Providence Saint Johns Health Center. “The flu is more likely to cause serious illness in pregnancy compared to those women who are not pregnant in pregnancy there are changes in the immune system, heart and lung function that make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from the flu which can lead to hospitalization or even death. Other problems as a result of the flu include dehydration, miscarriage and preterm labor.”
Furthermore, a flu shot helps protect newborns from getting the flu.
“Babies can’t get the flu vaccine until thy are six months, so by getting the vaccine herself, the mom will make the antibodies and pass it onto the baby, protecting them from severe flu for the first months of their lives,” says Dr. Chang.
Still, it is totally understandable to be concerned, so if you are pregnant and have questions, talk to your OB/GYN. And if you’re a parent who is unsure if your six month old is really ready for the flu vaccine, pay a visit to your pediatrician.
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