How Do Flu Vaccines Work
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Most flu vaccines in the United States protect against four different flu viruses an influenza A virus, an influenza A virus, and two influenza B viruses. There are also some flu vaccines that protect against three different flu viruses an influenza A virus, an influenza A virus, and one influenza B virus. Two of the trivalent vaccines are designed specifically for people 65 and older to create a stronger immune response.
How The Flu Shot Protects You
After two weeks of receiving the vaccine, your body can create antibodies that stimulate your immune system and fight off the virus present in the vaccine.
Each year, a season flu vaccine is developed against the influenza viruses that researchers predict will be the most common in the upcoming season.
There are two reasons you should get the flu shot every year:
When Is The Best Time To Get A Flu Shot In 2021
With the official start to autumn just around the corner, signing up for a flu shot in the next few weeks of September or at your earliest convenience in October is optimal. Dr. Walensky says that health experts indicate that you should receive your shot before Halloween and the end of October.“The general idea is that people should be protected before flu begins spreading in their community,” she adds, explaining that antibodies against virulent flu need about two weeks to fully develop and provide optimal protection.
The reason that flu vaccines are available right now is to accommodate some individuals who should receive a shot earlier if they can. These groups include:
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Will There Be Flu Along With Covid
While its not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, CDC believes its likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
What Are The Complications From The Flu
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse.
For example, people with asthma may experience more frequent and worse asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
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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
Flu Vaccine For Frontline Health And Social Care Workers
If you’re a frontline health and social care worker, your employer should offer you a flu vaccine. They may give the vaccine at your workplace.
You can also have an NHS flu vaccine at a GP surgery or a pharmacy if:
- you’re a health or social care worker employed by a registered residential care or nursing home, registered homecare organisation or a hospice
- you work in NHS primary care and have direct contact with patients this includes contractors, non-clinical staff and locums
- you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both
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More Ways You Can Help Protect Yourself Against The Flu
After you get your flu shot, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others from the flu and from COVID-19. That means frequent hand-washing, wearing a cloth mask and keeping a safe distance when youre in public spaces. Here are more ways you can help protect yourself and your community:
If youre feeling sick, stay home
Wash your hands throughout the day, especially after youve been in a public place or if you sneeze or cough
Avoid close contact with others and maintain a physical distance from others when youre in public spaces
Wear a cloth mask to cover your mouth and nose when youre around others. This helps protect others in case you may be infected
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, like doorknobs, tables, countertops, phones and more
Flu Vaccine For People With Long
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you’re at risk of serious problems if you get flu.
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Don’t Forget A Flu Vaccine This Season
Flu activity was kept low last season because of vaccination, social distancing, masking, school closures and limited travel. Now that pandemic restrictions are lifting, flu has a much higher chance of spreading. We can all do our part to prevent illness and hospitalizations caused by flu by getting vaccinated.
Why Should I Get The Flu Vaccine
Nationally, influenza vaccination prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths due to influenza during the 2019-2020 season. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.
It is especially important to get the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Flu vaccination reduces the prevalence and severity of illness caused by flu, reducing symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19
- It will reduce the overall burden of respiratory illness that will protect people at higher risk for severe illness of both flu and COVID-19
- The reduction of outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions from flu vaccination will alleviate stress on the health care system
For additional information, please see the CDC page: This Season a Flu Vaccine is More Important than Ever!
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When Should You Get Your Flu Shot
Its generally recommended that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, according to the CDC. This is especially important because of the ongoing spread of COVID-19. The flu season can last until March or April, so you can still get the flu vaccine later. No matter when you get your flu shot, it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season. Talk to your provider about the best time to get your flu shot. Remember to ask about other vaccines you might need to protect yourself this year too.
Can Severe Problems Occur
Life-threatening allergic reactions to flu shots are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the shot. These reactions can occur among persons who are allergic to something that is in the vaccine, such as egg protein or other ingredients. While severe reactions are uncommon, you should let your doctor, nurse, clinic, or pharmacist know if you have a history of allergy or severe reaction to influenza vaccine or any part of flu vaccine.
There is a small possibility that flu vaccine could be associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, generally no more than 1 or 2 cases per million people vaccinated. This is much lower than the risk of severe complications from flu, which can be prevented by flu vaccine.
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No One Likes Getting Sick
And the flu virus changes every year. So, getting a yearly shot helps protect yourself and those around you. Plus, its available at no cost to you.
Arizona Complete Health-Complete Care Plan welcomes you to participate in the AHCCCS statewide Roll Up Your Sleeve Initiative, which entitles you to a $10 gift card when you get your flu shot. Plus, you may be eligible to earn My Health Pays rewards.
The flu shot is a good idea for most. But some people are at a higher risk of health problems from the flu:
Considerations For Getting A Covid
Its safe for your health care provider to administer a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines. If youre 12 years of age or older, you may get the flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. You may also get it any time before or after you receive the flu shot.
For children aged 5 to 11, the National Advisory Council on Immunization recommends a 14-day interval between a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. This is to help better monitor for possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. Provinces and territories will decide on an interval for this age group as part of their vaccination programs.
Talk to a health care provider or consult your provincial or territorial public health authority for the latest guidance.
Learn more about:
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Is There More Than One Type Of Flu Shot Available
Yes. There are different flu vaccine manufacturers and multiple flu vaccines that are licensed and recommended for use in the United States.
CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine during the 2022-2023 flu season.
Available flu vaccines include:
- Standard-dose, unadjuvanted quadrivalent influenza shots that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. These include Afluria Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, and Fluzone Quadrivalent. Quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against four different flu viruses.
- A quadrivalent cell-based influenza shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is licensed for people 6 months and older. This vaccine is egg-free.
- Recombinant quadrivalent influenza shot , an egg-free vaccine, approved for people 18 years and older.
- A quadrivalent flu shot using an adjuvant , Fluad Quadrivalent, approved for people 65 years of age and older.
- A quadrivalent high-dose influenza vaccine Fluzone High-Dose, which contains a higher dose of antigen to help create a stronger immune response, licensed for people 65 years and older.
- A live attenuated influenza vaccine , which is given intranasally with a nasal sprayer, instead of with a needle like other influenza vaccines. This vaccine is approved for people 2 through 49 years of age. Live attenuated influenza vaccine should not be given to people who are pregnant, immunocompromised persons, and some other groups.
What Protection Does A Flu Vaccine Provide If I Do Get Sick With The Flu
Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick. However, flu vaccination has been shown in some studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized adults with flu. Another study in 2018 showed that a vaccinated adult who was hospitalized with the flu was 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than someone who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent 4 fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.
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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.
I Still Got The Flu After The Flu Vaccine Why Should I Get The Flu Vaccine This Year
Although the flu vaccine wont prevent every case of the flu, getting an annual vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of serious illness. Getting the flu vaccine may make illness milder. A 2017 study in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that influenza vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized influenza patients.
A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. If you get flu-like symptoms after receiving the flu vaccine, there may be a few reasons why you have a low grade fever, and headache, including that they may be mild side-effects of the vaccine. If you get diagnosed with the flu shortly after receiving the flu vaccine, you may have been exposed to the flu virus beforehand, as it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to work.
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What’s New For Flu For 2021
It’s best to get your family vaccinated for flu by October, but flu vaccine is still available through winter. You may visit your local doctor’s office, pharmacy or clinic event in your area. See www.vaccinefinder.org or call the Help Me Grow Washington hotline at 1-800-322-2588 to find a flu vaccine location near you.
- In Washington, all children under age 19 get flu vaccines and other recommended vaccines at no cost.
- The provider may charge an administration fee to give the vaccine. You can ask them to waive this fee if you cannot afford it.
- Most insurance plans, including Medicare part B, cover the cost of flu vaccine for adults.
- Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can both be received in the same day, or even the same visit for convenience.
- Talk to your local health department for information about other no-cost flu vaccine options that may be available in your community.
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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Schools & Childcare Providers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that each year, an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications. Flu causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older. Making healthy choices at school and at home can help prevent the flu and spreading flu to others.
For infection control tips for schools and childcare providers, visit the Information for Schools & Childcare Providers page.