How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine is dependent upon the extent of the match between the virus strains used to prepare the vaccine and those viruses in actual circulation. The age and health status of the individual also play a role in determining the effectiveness of the vaccine. While vaccine effectiveness can vary, recent studies show vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by about 40%-60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are similar to those used in the vaccines. Similar reductions in the number of people hospitalized with the flu have also been observed. Rates of flu prevention may be even higher in healthy adults under 65 years of age.
Ready To Receive Your Flu Vaccine For The 2021/22 Season
Community Pharmacy offers a variety of flu vaccine options to accommodate a wide range of individuals. No matter your age, health status, or philosophical beliefs, we can help you find a flu vaccine that meets your needs.
This season, we are offering:
- Two versions of the regular dose, egg-grown quadrivalent
- The high-dose, egg-grown quadrivalent
- The regular-dose, adjuvanted quadrivalent
To schedule your flu shot with Community Pharmacy, visit our website here.
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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Vaccination: Standard Way To Protect Yourself
A flu vaccine works as the primary defense mechanism against the highly contagious flu infection.
The vaccine exposes your body to a weakened version of the flu virus that is incapable of causing any illness or infection. It takes a few weeks for the vaccine to kick in and trigger the production of antibodies, and so you must exercise necessary precautions in this interim period.
CDC guidelines suggest that anyone above the age of 6 months should get vaccinated against the flu.
You need to get a flu shot annually, as the antibodies from the previous shot tend to diminish over the period of a year. Moreover, the virus keeps mutating and you have to get the latest vaccine available to protect yourself from the newest strain of the flu.
Flu vaccinations are categorized into the following types:
Intradermal Flu Vaccine For Adult Ages 1864
Unlike the standard flu vaccine that is injected into the muscle, the intradermal flu shot is injected into the skin.
This type of flu shot can engender the same immune response as the regular flu shot with a smaller amount of antigen. It is for this reason that intradermal flu injections are usually administered with a relatively smaller needle.
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Should You Get Vaccinated At A Pharmacy
These technologies can make you a lot more nimble at responding to a flu outbreak that you didnt expect or a sudden change in whats circulating, says Conway. Some of these newer technologies were developed so that if this does happen weve at least got the capacity to be able to do that.
The hope is that these newer vaccines will prove to be more effective than the traditional immunization. An investigation published in December 2018 in the Journal of Infectious Disease found the cell-based immunization to be slightly better than the standard vaccine, and an August 2020 study in npj Vaccines showed that recombinant technology produced a stronger immune response than the egg-based vaccine. But to determine if these newer vaccines are more more protective than egg-based vaccines, more research is needed.
A paper published in February 2020 in the Journal of Biomedical Science underscored that the comparatively high cost of these alternatives to egg-based influenza vaccines have prevented them from taking a bigger share of the influenza vaccine market.
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Over Time
The flu vaccine needs two weeks to become fully effective, and protection is thought to last for at least six months. But a person’s antibody levels in response to the vaccine can decrease over time, and different flu strains may be circulating.
Because of that and because each year the vaccine is tailored to the most concerning flu variants, people should get a flu vaccine annually.
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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.
Different Types Of Flu Vaccines
There are two categories of influenza vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the virus , and quadrivalent, which protects against four strains .
Within these two categories, there are numerous vaccine types to accommodate individuals of varying ages and health conditions so everyone can protect themselves against the flu.
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Other Methods Of Manufacture
Methods of vaccine generation that bypass the need for eggs include the construction of influenza virus-like particles . VLP resemble viruses, but there is no need for inactivation, as they do not include viral coding elements, but merely present antigens in a similar manner to a virion. Some methods of producing VLP include cultures of Spodoptera frugiperdaSf9 insect cells and plant-based vaccine production . There is evidence that some VLPs elicit antibodies that recognize a broader panel of antigenically distinct viral isolates compared to other vaccines in the hemagglutination-inhibition assay .
A gene-based DNA vaccine, used to prime the immune system after boosting with an inactivated H5N1 vaccine, underwent clinical trials in 2011.
On November 20, 2012, Novartis received FDA approval for the first cell-culture vaccine. In 2013, the recombinant influenza vaccine, Flublok, was approved for use in the United States.
On September 17, 2020, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency adopted a positive opinion, recommending the granting of a marketing authorization for Supemtek, a quadrivalent influenza vaccine . The applicant for this medicinal product is Sanofi Pasteur. Supemtek was approved for medical use in the European Union in November 2020.
What Do Seniors Need To Know About The Flu Vaccine
Compared to younger adults, people who are 65 years and older have a greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu. It has been estimated that in recent years seniors have accounted for 50-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations and 70-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths. In addition, seniors typically develop weaker immune responses to the flu vaccine. That’s why there are special flu vaccines specifically designed for seniors: the high-dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine.
Compared to a regular flu shot, the high-dose vaccine has four times the amount of antigen, which is part of the vaccine that triggers the immune response. The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains an extra substance called an adjuvant that helps the vaccine work better by giving you a stronger immune response. Both the high-dose vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine have demonstrated stronger immune responses in persons 65 years and older as compared to those who received the standard flu shot. Note that older adults can get any flu vaccine approved for use in their age group, including standard-dose flu vaccine.
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Who Shouldnt Get Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine
Different influenza vaccines are approved for use in people in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a persons suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a persons age, health and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. For more information, visit Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.
What Are The Risks Of The Flu Shot
The vaccine may cause mild symptoms, such as a fever, headache, and muscle aches. You may also have mild to moderate soreness or redness at the area where you were given the shot. You may still get the flu after you receive the vaccine. You may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.
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Find A Flu Shot Location Near You
If you have a UnitedHealthcare health plan, you can get a flu shot at more than 50,000 locations.
Enter your ZIP code and select a pharmacy in your area, then select Find my flu shot to see results within a 20-mile radius from the center of your ZIP code.
Please note: If you’re using a screen reader, please select Participating pharmacies, then select a pharmacy to find a location near you.
The Nasal Spray Option
People who absolutely cant stand needles may be able to seek out a flu vaccine that can be administered via a nasal spray, notes the CDC. Sold under the brand name FluMist, this form is approved for healthy nonpregnant individuals, 2 through 49 years old.
The nasal vaccine is actually a little bit different from all the other vaccines in that other flu vaccines are inactivated they contain dead parts of the virus, whereas the intranasal one is a live attenuated vaccine, which means that it contains live virus that has kind of been weakened, so that the body can mount an immune response to that, says Philbrick.
She explains that the body simply will not mount an immune response to an inactivated vaccine that is administered intranasally.
Conway points out that the nasal vaccine was restricted for use in those under age 2 because they experienced some side effects such as wheezing.
As far as the restriction for those 50 and older, a spokesperson for FluMists manufacturer, AstraZeneca, says that Based on the clinical studies conducted and submitted for FDA review and approval, the effectiveness of FluMist Quadrivalent has not been established in people aged 50 and older.
Philbrick recommends the traditional flu shot as the method of choice, but if you absolutely cant do needles and otherwise would not get the flu vaccine, the nasal spray would be an appropriate alternative.
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Health Conditions Or Weak Immune System
Patients who have a severe chronic illness or an impaired immune system are generally advised to get vaccinated. A chronic illness or a weak immune system increases the risk of becoming very sick from community-acquired flu viruses.
Certain medications or chronic illnesses may make you immunocompromised. For instance, you might be immunocompromised if you are taking medication to treat cancer or immunosuppressant drugs for a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, or if you have an immune system disorder, such as HIV/AIDS.
Chronic illnesses that can make you susceptible to severe illness from the flu include diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, asthma, and neurological conditions.
Inactivated forms of the flu shot are recommended for people with chronic illnesses or weak immune systems. Make sure to speak with your doctor to determine if you should avoid the nasal spray flu vaccine.
What If I Have An Egg Allergy
Most flu shots and the nasal spray flu vaccine are made using egg-based technology, and may contain a small amount of egg proteins. However, studies show that severe allergic reactions to the flu shot and nasal spray vaccine are unlikely in people with egg allergies. People who have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs can receive any influenza vaccine. If eggs have given you serious allergic reactions, meaning any symptom other than hives, you can still receive any of the available influenza vaccines but you should receive it in a health care provider’s office, hospital, clinic, or health department under the supervision of a health care provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Your provider may recommend that you receive the egg-free influenza vaccine.
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Who Should Avoid The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is very effective, but it isnt right for everyone.
Dont get the vaccine if youve had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient it contains, including egg protein.
You also should avoid the flu vaccine if youve had Guillain-Barré syndrome. In 1976, a swine flu vaccine was linked to an increased risk for Guillain-Barré, which causes the immune system to attack and damage the protective coating around nerve cells.
Guillain-Barré syndrome causes extreme weakness and tingling in the limbs, known as severe peripheral neuropathy. It can be life-threatening in rare cases.
Theres no clear link between the current flu vaccine and Guillain-Barré. If any risk exists, its very small, affecting about 1 out of every 1 million people vaccinated.
The vaccine also isnt recommended for babies under 6 months old because it hasnt been proven safe in infants.
Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system, or if you take medicine to suppress your immune system. You may not respond as well to the vaccine.
If youre sick, you might want to put off the flu shot until you feel better.
Variation On The Conventional
With the well-accepted limitations and deficiencies in the current influenza vaccine system, substantial resources have been spent trying to improve it. The improvements that are most advanced, many of which are already in use, are those that contribute incremental, but important, advances to the current TIV and LAIV platforms.
Is The Flu Vaccine Effective
Annual vaccination is the single best way to protect against the flu and reduce disease severity and complications. The CDC estimates that flu vaccination during the 20162017 flu season prevented an estimated 5.29 million illnesses, 2.64 million medical visits, and 84,700 flu-related hospitalizations.8 How effective the flu vaccine is can depend of several factors and vary from season to season.9
Seasonal Flu And Covid
COVID-19 and the flu will likely both be spreading this season, according to the CDC. Protecting yourself from the flu with a flu shot helps reduce your risk of serious illness and hospitalization.3 Thats important this year because there continue to be concerns about hospital capacity with the ongoing spread of COVID-19. It may be hard to know if you have COVID-19 or if it may be the flu or a cold, since symptoms are similar. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine will give you the best protection. You can even get them at the same time.3 Ask your doctor if you have more questions about how these vaccines can help protect you.
- Those with specific health conditions
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Immunological Response To Influenza Virus Infection
A challenge to the development of an effective immune response to influenza virus is the acute nature of the infection. Meta-analyses of human challenge studies with seasonal influenza viruses have shown that typical clinical symptoms peak on day 2 postinfection and resolve within 10 days, while viral shedding lasts an average of 4.8 days . The short infection period means that the local innate immune response is critical for restricting and clearing the infection. In humans, innate immunity to influenza virus is mediated by several mechanisms. Within infected cells, the viral RNA is recognized by pathogen recognition receptors such as the Toll-like receptors , retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 , and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain -like receptor . Activation of these immune pathways leads to induction of interferon-mediated antiviral responses and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, which helps to restrict virus replication. In addition, alveolar macrophages and natural killer cells and dendritic cells all play a role by clearing virus-infected cells through phagocytosis and induction of apoptosis .
Who Should Not Get The Flu Vaccine
Children younger than 6 months are too young to receive a flu vaccine.
If you are interested in the influenza vaccine nasal spray, there are a few more things to know. Because it contains a live virus, you should not get the influenza nasal spray if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or are in close contact with persons who have a weakened immune system , or have taken an influenza antiviral medication within the last 48 hours.
Children and adolescents who receive aspirin or salicylate-containing medication should not receive the influenza nasal spray, nor should young children who have experienced an episode of wheezing in the last 12 months or who have been diagnosed with asthma. People with chronic health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or diabetes should talk with their health care provider before receiving the influenza nasal spray.
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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.