How Can Influenza Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of getting influenza or spreading it to others by:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that people touch
- Promptly disposing of used tissues in the waste basket or garbage
- Coughing and sneezing into your shirt sleeve rather than your hands
- Staying home when you are ill
- Getting an influenza vaccine
Getting an influenza vaccine can help prevent you from getting sick with influenza and from spreading it to others.
Why Do We Need The Flu Shot Every Year
The influenza virus changes slightly every year. How effective the vaccine is depends on how closely matched the weakened viruses in the vaccine are compared with the actual viruses which circulate every year. In years when the virus only changes a little, the vaccine will be highly effective reducing risk of influenza by up to 80 per cent.
In years where the virus changes a lot then the vaccine will not be as effective in some years reducing the risk of influenza by only 20 per cent.
Its impossible to predict how much the virus will change each year, so the vaccine is designed by a group of experts at the World Health Organization who meet every year to decide which are the most likely strains that will circulate in the next flu season. These strains are used to make the next years vaccine.
Occasionally the virus changes completely because human influenza virus mixes with animal influenza viruses. Thats when we have pandemics. The last pandemic was in 2009. When that happens, a new vaccine can only be made after the pandemic has started because the exact type of virus causing the pandemic is impossible to predict.
Which Influenza Vaccination Is Best For Older Adults
Looking at the list of available flu shots can be overwhelming. In looking at this years CDC table of available influenza vaccines, I counted eight options that are available for people aged 65 or older:
- 4 standard-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccines
- 1 standard-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccine manufactured with a newer cell culture-based technology
- 1 high-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccine
- 1 standard-dose quadrivalent adjuvanted inactivated vaccine
- 1 quadrivalent recombinant vaccine
Only Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent and Fluad Quadrivalent carry an age indication specific to 65 years or older.
However, the CDC does not recommend any influenza vaccine over another, for adults aged 65 or older.
So if you are an older adult, or if youre trying to arrange a flu shot for an aging relative, which flu vaccine should you try to get?
My take is this: if you have a choice, go for one of the vaccines designed for older adults.
Why? Because we know that as people get older, their immune systems tend to respond less vigorously to immunization. And because research suggests that the high-dose flu shot generates higher antibody titers and has been associated with better influenza outcomes.
We do have more research and experience for Fluzone High-Dose than for Fluad, so unless you are enrolling in a clinical trial of Fluad, I would suggest going with the Fluzone High-Dose.
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When Is The Best Time To Get A Flu Shot
Its best to get vaccinated before the flu begins to spread in your community. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop after getting the flu shot.
However, getting vaccinated too early, like in the summer, may reduce protection against the flu virus. This is why the CDC recommends getting the flu shot early in the fall, right before the flu season begins. Plan to take your aging loved one to get a senior flu shot by the end of October.
Although getting a senior flu shot is a great way to help prevent the flu, also encourage your aging loved one to take these steps to stay healthy:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Pay attention to symptoms, such as a fever, chills, sore throat, body aches, and cough.
- Practice healthy habits to support immune health and prevent disease.
- Eat a balanced diet, stay physically active, manage stress, and get plenty of rest.
Original article by A Place for Mom senior content strategist Angelike Gaunt.
The Flu Shot Is Your Best Defence
This years flu season is taking place at the same time as COVID-19. Dont take any unnecessary risks with your health. Get the flu shot as early in the season as possible.
The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. It is:
- available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province
- proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
- different each year because the virus changes frequently so you need to get it every fall
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Who Should Get A High
Flu vaccines for seniors are only approved for individuals over the age of 65. It is not recommended for those with a history of severe allergic reaction to the flu shot or to other vaccine ingredients. If you are concerned about which flu vaccine is right for you, speak with your primary care physician.
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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There Are 2 Types Of Flu Shots To Choose From: Which One Should You Get
Youve heard it repeatedly: You should get your annual flu shot. You can go to your local pharmacy, doctors office, or hospital to get the shot, but you should probably know that there are two different types of shots, each of which offers varying coverage.
One is the trivalent vaccine, and the other, the quadrivalent vaccine. The trivalent vaccine protects against three strains of the flu an influenza A, or H1N1, virus an influenza A, or H3N2, virus and an influenza B virus. The quadrivalent vaccine, meanwhile, protects against four strains: all of the strains in the trivalent vaccine, plus an additional B virus strain.
There is a type of quadrivalent flu shot that can be given to children as young as 6 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Other quadrivalent flu shots are approved for people ages 3 and up.
So which one are you likely to get, and should you be opting for something different?
In general, youre probably getting the quadrivalent vaccine, infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Most places are going to be primarily stocking the quadrivalent, he says. You want to get this vaccine because it covers against more strains.
If you know you want to get your flu shot and arent sure which type youre getting, just ask. Your doctor or pharmacist should be able to tell you.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
Who Needs An Annual Flu Shot
Short answer: You do. The CDC says everyone 6 months of age and older needs an annual flu shot, and young children might need two doses. Typically, immunity kicks in about two weeks after your vaccination, and even if you come in contact with a different strain of the flu, your vaccine may still provide some important protection.
At Healthy Life Family Medicine, we offer the most up-to-date flu shots,a s well as other vaccines you might need to stay healthy. If youd like to learn more about this years flu shot, or if youd like to schedule a vaccine to help keep the flu at bay, call our office at 623-232-9194 and schedule a visit today.
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Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine
Children 2-17 years of age who are eligible for an influenza vaccine can receive FluMist® Quadrivalent by nasal spray.
The nasal spray vaccine will be available at health units, some pharmacies and some doctors’ offices. Pharmacists will be able to give the nasal spray flu vaccine to children 2 years of age and older. The Influenza Clinic locator will list if a nasal spray vaccine is available at that clinic. Call ahead to confirm. The nasal spray vaccine is not approved for use in those younger than 2 years of age and they should receive their influenza vaccine by needle.
What To Know About Flu Shots For Older Adults
Q: Is the flu vaccine effective for older adults?
A: You may have heard people say that the flu shot doesnt work in older people. This is not entirely correct.
Now, its true that flu vaccine is usually less effective in older adults because aging immune systems tend to not respond as vigorously to the vaccine. In other words, older adults tend to create fewer antibodies in response to vaccination. So if they are later exposed to flu virus, they have a higher chance of falling ill, compared to younger adults.
But less effective doesnt mean not at all effective. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that vaccination prevented about 700,000 influenza cases and 65,000 hospitalizations, for adults aged 65 and older.
For more on the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in older adults, see:
To provide more effective vaccination to aging immune systems, vaccine makers have developed stronger vaccines against the flu, which I explain in the next section.
Q: Are there flu shots specifically designed for older adults?
Yes, over the past several years, vaccine makers have developed vaccines that are designed to work better with an aging immune system. Most research studies to date show that these stimulate aging immune systems to produce more antibodies to influenza. Theres also some evidence that these vaccines reduce the risk of being hospitalized for influenza.
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Another Study Shows Limited Flu Vaccine Benefits In Seniors
The research team, from the University of Toronto, looked at the relationship between flu vaccination and health outcomes in Ontario seniors over nine flu seasons. Using an unusual method to limit confounding, they found that vaccination was linked with a 6% reduction in all-cause mortality during flu seasons, but this difference was not statistically significant.
When they looked at another outcomeeither all-cause mortality or hospitalization for pneumonia and influenza the result was better: a significant 14% reduction in risk during flu season for those who were vaccinated. The study was published Feb 27 in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Though the study showed only modest benefits, the authors say the current recommendation for annual flu vaccination for elderly people should remain until more conclusive evidence is gathered, because flu vaccination is generally safe and relatively low in cost.
Documented benefits of flu vaccination in seniors have been downsized in recent years. As noted in the new report, past observational studies have suggested that flu vaccines reduced winter all-cause mortality in older people by as much as 50%. But researchers have pointed out that flu is believed to explain less than 10% of deaths in winter, making such a large benefit implausible.
“Basically I thought that their main points are good, that the method they’re trying out is a reasonable method, and I like the paper,” he told CIDRAP News.
New Flu Vaccine Available This Winter For Those Aged 65 And Over
A more effective flu vaccine is available this winter for those aged 65 and over, which could prevent deaths and reduce the burden on the NHS.
- 12 September 2018
Delegates at the Public Health England conference heard that a more effective flu vaccine for those aged 65 and over this winter has the potential to prevent deaths and significantly reduce the burden on the NHS.
The vaccine, available for the first time this year in the UK for those aged 65 and over, could reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from flu in England, alleviating some of the health burden that seasonal flu places on the population, workplaces and the NHS.
The newly available adjuvanted vaccine is expected to significantly boost effectiveness by improving the bodys immune response to the vaccine. This is important because typically, older adults bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems. Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.
The broader flu vaccination programme will also be improved by offering all eligible adults under 65, including pregnant women and those with long-term health conditions, the quadrivalent vaccine in injected form.
This protects against a total of four strains of flu two strains of flu A and two strains of flu B.
Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director at PHE, said:
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said:
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Adjuvanted Inactivated Flu Vaccine
Another vaccine specifically designed for seniors is the adjuvanted, inactivated flu vaccine. An adjuvant is a substance that increases your body’s reaction to virus proteins.
Medical term: Inactivated flu shots contain dead flu viruses. The antigens in the vaccine still provoke an immune response so you build up antibodies against the flu virus. Inactivated flu vaccines are typically recommended for people who are pregnant, are over the age of 65, or who have certain medical conditions.
The substance added to the adjuvanted flu vaccine is squalene oil, also called MF59, which is found naturally in plants and animals. “This gives an extra boost to the immune response to the vaccine which will then lead to greater protection from infection,” Haynes says.
Because the adjuvanted vaccine spikes your immune response, it may also have more side effects than the standard vaccine, including irritation at the injection site, muscle aches, and headache. However, the vaccine offers great protection for seniors a 2020 study found that people over 65 who got the adjuvanted vaccine were less likely to be hospitalized for the flu, compared with those who got the standard vaccine.
What Flu Shot To Take
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC does not recommend one vaccine over the other.
Englund said the high-dose vaccines are preferable for patients 65 and older, but they should get the regular dose if a high-dose is unavailable.
“If the option is to get the standard dose or nothing,” Englund said. “We absolutely prefer the standard dose vaccine.”
How effective is it?:Here’s what doctors say about the flu shot
Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD, like many other vaccines, are egg-based. Patients with severe egg allergies shouldn’t get the shot.
It’s not recommended for people who have a rare disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.
Side effects for the high-dose vaccines mirror the standard dose: soreness around the injection site and a low, 24-hour fever.
Schaffner said this shouldnt deter patients as the alternative can be fatal.
A sore arm and one day of fever is a small price to pay to get prevention against influenza, which can be a very deadly infection, he said.
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Immune Response To Infection In The Elderly
With advancing age, the innate and adaptive immune responses gradually deteriorate, manifesting in a reduced capacity to respond to infection and immunization. Vaccine immunogenicity is defined as the strength or magnitude of an immune response. Vaccine efficacy and effectiveness measure the proportionate reduction in cases among vaccinated persons either under ideal or field conditions, respectively., The elderly typically experience a vaccine-induced immunogenicity of only 3040%. Immunosenescence is increasingly being viewed less as an overall deterioration in response but rather a remodeling of the immune system which results in dysregulation of various components some functions deteriorate while others remain unchanged or overreact .
Why The Flu Shot Is Important
“Many people skip their flu shot thinking it doesn’t matter, but an estimated 80% of children who died from the flu did not get their flu vaccine,” says Alice Benjamin, APRN, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-C, a Los Angeles-based clinical nurse specialist and family nurse practitioner. “In adults, getting an annual flu shot has been shown to decrease your chances of falling seriously sick with the flu by 40% to 60%.”
Overall, the flu shot is the most effective way to prevent yourself from getting the flu. That doesn’t mean it’s 100% effective according to CDC data from February 2020, the flu shot was about 46% effective for the 2019-20 season. But that also shouldn’t stop you from getting one.
“Let’s acknowledge that the flu vaccine is not perfect,” says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “But it’s the best flu vaccine that modern science can give us. And we can do a lot of good with our pretty good vaccine.”
By protecting you from getting sick, flu shots also help protect you from more severe health complications. For example, studies have found that heart attacks and strokes may be more likely to occur soon after you have the flu.
“If you need another reason to get protection from a flu shot, that’s it,” Schaffner says.
If you’re still not convinced, it may be helpful to weigh the pros and cons of getting a flu shot:
There are a few common side effects from the flu shot injection, such as:
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