Why We Need New Flu Vaccines Every Year
There are several reasons a new flu vaccine must be made each year.
Flu viruses can change from year to year, so the vaccine is updated to protect against new virus strains that are expected to circulate in the U.S. The vaccine needs to include influenza virus strains that most closely match those in circulation for the influenza season. In addition, the protection provided by the flu vaccine a person received in the previous year will diminish over time and may be too low to prevent influenza disease into next years flu season.
How The Flu Vaccine Works
Development of the seasonal flu vaccine actually begins many months ahead of flu season. The viruses used in the vaccine are based on extensive research and surveillance into which strains will be most common during the upcoming season.
Seasonal flu vaccines protect against two types of influenza viruses: influenza A and influenza B. They can also be either trivalent or quadrivalent.
The trivalent vaccine protects against three flu viruses: two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus.
The quadrivalent vaccine protects against the same three viruses as the trivalent vaccine, but it also includes an additional influenza B virus.
Who Should Not Get The Flu Shot
The flu vaccine is considered safe and effective for most people, but there are certain people who should not receive certain kinds of flu vaccines.
For example, a high-dose inactivated vaccine is only approved for use in those 65 and older. Those older than 2 and younger than 50 are the only groups approved to take the nasal spray vaccine . Your healthcare provider can advise about which vaccine is the safest and most effective for you.
And theres also a small subset of people who should not receive any flu vaccine at all. According to the CDC, these people include:
- Babies younger than 6 months
- People who have a severe allergy to any ingredient in the vaccinefor example, gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.
If you have an egg allergy or youve had Guillain-Barre Syndrome , get medical advice from your doctor before receiving a flu vaccine. Depending on your particular situation, your doctor may decide that receiving the vaccine outweighs any potential risks. You might also need to get the vaccine in a healthcare setting, so you can be closely observed by medical personnel.
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Where Are Flu Shots Available
During flu season, flu vaccines are available in a number of places:
- Pharmacies, including those within grocery and big-box stores
- Doctors office
- Student health clinic
- Local health department
Some schools and workplaces also sponsor flu shot events on their premises. The CDC also has a vaccine finder website you can use to find both influenza and coronavirus vaccines in your area.
Depending on your insurance coverage, your flu shot may be free or discounted. If you do have to pay full price for a flu shot, its apt to run you $30 to $40. If you cant get a free flu shot, compare prices using our pharmacy directory and show your free SingleCare prescription discount card to your pharmacist to get the best deal possible.
Can I Have Flu And Covid
Yes. It is possible to have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be.
Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.
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Common Flu Shot Side Effects
Repeat: The flu vaccine won’t give you the flu, but you can experience mild symptoms because of how the vaccine works.
“The flu vaccine is designed to stimulate your immune system to build antibodies to the virus. That stimulation can cause a low-grade fever, a decrease in appetite, loose stool, mild fatigue or myalgia and even a scant cough,” Teague says.
According to Teague, these symptoms usually resolve after a few days and are no cause for alarm. You may also experience some redness, swelling or soreness where the shot was injected, which is also normal.
The CDC says you can experience “flulike” symptoms after getting the vaccine, such as:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site
- Muscle aches
The symptoms listed above should resolve in a few days. Also, keep in mind not everyone has symptoms, but those are the most common. When it comes to other symptoms, or symptoms that last longer, it’s important to keep in mind that you can still catch a cold, or other virus, right after you get the flu shot.
So if you experience other symptoms that seem like the flu, it could be another illness and it doesn’t mean the shot made you sick. The flu shot also takes about two weeks to become effective at protecting you from the flu, so you could technically catch the flu within that two-week window.
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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Can You Get A Flu Shot If Youre Sick
It depends. The general guidance is it depends on how sick you are, says Donald Ford, MD, MBA, Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. If you have a mild illness or a cold what we normally think of a routine viral infection theres absolutely no reason why you cant go ahead and get your flu shot, which is protection against a more severe viral infection.
However, if you have a fever which for adults is classified as a temperature over 100.4° F or are otherwise feeling unlike yourself, Dr. Ford recommends rescheduling for another day.
The temperature is one marker, he says. If youre sick enough that youre staying home from work, if youre having trouble keeping food down or staying hydrated, those would be all reasons to at least postpone it.
Do I Need A Flu Shot If I’m Vaccinated Against Covid
Some people think getting a flu or coronavirus vaccine reduces risks for both viruses, but that’s not the case, since these are different viruses, Wen said. Therefore, “getting a flu vaccine is the best protection against flu and its potentially serious complications, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19,” the CDC said.
This year’s flu vaccines are designed to protect against the four different flu viruses that research has indicated will be most commonly circulating, according to the CDC. Since there are many flu viruses that constantly change, the makeup of US flu vaccines is reviewed yearly and updated as needed.
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Who Should Get A Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone over 6 months old should get one. It’s even more important if you’re at high risk for serious complications from the flu, if you have frequent exposure to the general public , or if you are a caregiver in close contact with high-risk individuals.
For seasonal flu, high-risk groups include:
- Children aged 2 and younger
- People living in a long-term care facility
- People with weakened immune systems
- Pregnant women or those who gave birth in the past two weeks
People with chronic health conditions are also considered high risk. Conditions and circumstances that are known to increase your risk of serious flu complications include:
- Anyone with a weakened or suppressed immune system due to illness or medication
- People under 19 who are on long-term salicylate-containing medications, including aspirin
Contact Us To Learn More About Getting A Flu Vaccine
Hoping to get a flu vaccine late in the season? Need help handling any influenza symptoms? Hamilton Healthcare is here for you. Were your local health care partner, providing affordable and accessible services to families of all backgrounds. Contact us today to learn more about what we do and how we can help.
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Flu Shot Side Effects : What’s Normal And What’s Cause For Concern
All vaccines have the potential to cause side effects, and that includes your yearly flu shot. But most are totally normal.
The coronavirus is still a very real concern this fall, but so is the influenza virus, aka the flu. The good news is we have very safe and effective tools for fighting and preventing both potentially deadly viruses, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine.
According to the CDC, flu shots are safe and one of the best ways to keep from getting and spreading the flu to others. And people who get vaccinated and get sick anyway often experience less severe symptoms. If you’re thinking of getting vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu, the CDC says it is safe to get both vaccines together .
The simple fact is, flu vaccines can save lives. There are plenty of myths out there about the flu vaccine, such as the idea that it can give you the flu. While that’s not true, you can experience some side effects from the flu shot. The side effects are usually mild and nothing to worry about, but it’s important to know about them so you’re not worried when you get your vaccine.
Below, Dr. Carmen Teague, specialty medical director at Atrium Health‘s Mecklenburg Medical Group shares what you need to know about common flu shot side effects that are normal, and which side effects may be a sign of something more serious.
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How Long Should I Isolate If I Have Covid
To “quarantine” means to stay away from other people after you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19, and “isolating” means staying away from others when you have COVID-19.
According to the CDC’s guidance, people with COVID-19 should isolate and stay home for at least five days. This is the case regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated. “Day one” is the first full day after your symptoms began, or after you received your positive test if you don’t have symptoms. If after five days you either don’t have symptoms anymore or your symptoms have improved , you can leave your house.
However, there are some additional “don’ts” for what not to do during the following five days — the remainder of the agency’s old 10-day isolation guidance. Don’t go anywhere without a mask, don’t hang out with friends, family or anyone who would be at high risk for severe COVID-19, don’t eat around other people and try not to travel.
For example: Suppose you wake up Monday with a headache and fever, you happen to have a rapid COVID-19 test on hand and it comes back positive. Tuesday will be day one of your isolation, and you’ll be able to leave home on Sunday , if your fever goes down naturally before Saturday.
If you still have a fever after five days, or you feel just as crummy as you did earlier in the week, you should stay home for the full 10 days, according to the CDC.
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When The Flu Vaccine Starts Working
Once you receive your flu shot, it takes 2 weeks for your body to develop antibodies that provide protection.
Its important to remember that during this period, youre still vulnerable to becoming ill with the flu.
During that time, you should be extra careful to:
- practice good hygiene
- avoid touching your nose or mouth whenever possible
- avoid crowds if flu is circulating in your community
These precautions are exponentially more important while COVID-19 is still a factor. You can develop the flu along with other respiratory infections, so protecting yourself and others is important.
How To Make Sense Of The Cdc’s New Quarantine Guidance
After the CDC changed its recommendations, public messaging remains murky. If you test positive, how long do you really need to stay home?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sparked confusion and criticism recently when it loosened its recommendations for what you should do if you test positive for COVID-19.
The agency shortened the isolation period from 10 days to five, as long as someone is asymptomatic or has “improving” symptoms, which includes being fever-free for at least 24 hours . The new recommendations don’t require someone to test negative before they’re given the OK to be around others or return to work.
The new guidance has inspired some internet satire as well, with people riffing on making bad decisions just because the “CDC said it’s OK.” This points to a larger problem the agency has wrestled with since the beginning of the pandemic , which is clearly communicating its public health recommendations, and the decision-making that goes into them.
If you’re confused about how long to stay home if you have COVID or have been exposed, keep reading for a breakdown of the CDC’s new guidance and why these changes were made now.
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Vaccine Supply And Distribution
How much influenza vaccine is projected to be available for the 2021-2022 influenza season?
Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. Vaccine manufacturers have projected that they will supply the United States with as many as 188 million to 200 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2021-2022 season. These projections may change as the season progresses. All flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 season will be quadrivalent . Most will be thimerosal-free or thimerosal-reduced vaccine and about 18% of flu vaccines will be egg-free.
Where can I find information about vaccine supply?
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.
What If I Get The Flu Virus Again
You can usually get your flu shot at your local pharmacy.
Don’t worry. If youre exposed to that kind of virus again, your body already knows how to take care of it. It can destroy the virus before you actually get sick.
This is how vaccines work. They give your body a virus or bacteria that is either dead or otherwise deactivated.
That way, the virus or bacteria cant actually get you sick, but your body can still recognize it and learn how to fight it.
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Why Do I Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year
A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a persons immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.
When Are You Supposed To Get A Flu Shot
In the U.S., peak flu season falls between December and February. However, theres no set timeframe the flu can start to spread earlier in the fall and last through May. This means there is a lot of fluidity when it comes to the optimal time to get your flu shot.
Generally, experts recommend that you get your flu shot in September or by the end of October. Because the shot takes about two weeks to start effectively protecting you, youre advised to get a shot as soon as they start becoming available in your community. This typically happens in September.
Dont forget these top tips:
- You can get a flu shot even if youve already had the flu, as this can protect you from other flu strains.
- If youre above the age of 65 and got your flu shot early, you can ask your doctor about getting a booster if the flu is still going strong late in the season.
- Flu shots are recommended for everybody age six months and older.
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