What Is A Flu Vaccine
Influenza vaccines are vaccines that protect against the four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Most flu vaccines are flu shots given with a needle, usually in the arm, but there also is a nasal spray flu vaccine.
Possible Side Effects Of Influenza Vaccination
You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common side effects of influenza vaccines include:
- pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in
- fever, tiredness, body aches.
Talk to your immunisation provider about possible side effects of the influenza vaccines, or if you or your child have side effects that worry you.
The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.
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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The Flu Vaccine Is Safe
To ensure that the flu vaccine is safe, effective, and of high quality, the FDA prepares and provides reagents to manufacturers that they need to make their vaccine and to verify its identity and potency. The FDA also inspects manufacturing facilities regularly and evaluates each manufacturers vaccine annually before it can be approved.
The FDAs oversight doesnt end there. After manufacturers have distributed their vaccines for use by the public, the FDA and CDC work together to routinely evaluate reports of adverse events following vaccination submitted by vaccine manufacturers, health care providers and vaccine recipients to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System .
Additional efforts are in place to monitor vaccine safety. The FDA partners with private organizations that collect health care data and other federal agencies to further evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the influenza vaccines and other vaccines that the FDA has approved or authorized for emergency use.
The Biologics Effectiveness and Safety Initiative is one of the programs the FDA utilizes to assess vaccine safety and effectiveness in real-world conditions, reflecting patient care and the real-world use of the influenza vaccine and other vaccines in the U.S. In addition, the CDC maintains the Vaccine Safety Datalink program, which evaluates the vaccines safety similar to the BEST Initiative. VSD receives its data from nine integrated health care organizations in the U.S.
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.
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How Flu Vaccine Virus Strains Are Selected
Every year, in late February or early March, before that years flu season ends, the FDA, the World Health Organization , the CDC, and other public health experts collaborate on collecting and reviewing data from around the world to identify the flu viruses likely to cause the most illnesses during the next flu season.
Following that process, the FDA convenes its vaccines advisory committee, consisting of outside experts, to discuss the WHO recommendations and to consider which flu viruses are expected to circulate in the U.S. The committee also reviews data about which flu viruses have caused illnesses in the past year, how the viruses are changing, and disease trends for the U.S. The FDA takes that information into account before it selects the virus strains for FDA-licensed manufacturers to include in their vaccines for use in the U.S.
The closer the match between the virus strains chosen for the vaccine and the circulating strains causing disease during flu season, the better the protection that the flu vaccine provides. Although the vaccine and viruses may not be an exact match in some years, that does not mean the vaccine is not benefiting people. Available data show that the vaccine can reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
When Should I Get Vaccinated
You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in your community since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in the fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated early is likely to be associated with reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season, particularly among older adults. Vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
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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 Best Time To Get A Flu Shot This Year
As far as timing goes, there’s a sweet spot. Historically, it’s been recommended to get the influenza vaccine as soon as it becomes available for the year, but data shows that protection lasts between four and six months. For this reason, some experts are recommending pushing back vaccination until late September or early October for the most protection during peak months of infection.
The CDC echoes that sentiment, noting that , because it’s ideal to get the flu shot before influenza really begins circulating in the area. For some kids, who may require two doses, and for people in the third trimester of pregnancy, a doctor may advise an early shot time . Preferably, the CDC says that everyone should have received their flu shot by October 31. It takes two weeks following vaccination for antibodies to develop, so that Halloween deadline means that we all would ideally be bolstered up before Thanksgiving.
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Just as COVID-19 continues to evolve into new strains, influenza evolves frequently, too. Experts say relying on last year’s vaccine is not a good idea, as protection from the vaccine decreases over time and the influenza virus changes every year, which is why an annual vaccine is necessary.
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Q: What Are Insurance Plans And Health Systems Doing Differently This Year
Insurers and health systems contacted by KHN say they will follow CDC guidelines, which call for limiting and spacing out the number of people waiting in lines and vaccination areas. Some are setting appointments for flu shots to help manage the flow.
Health Fitness Concepts, a company that works with UnitedHealth Group and other businesses to set up flu shot clinics in the Northeast, said it is encouraging smaller, more frequent events to support social distancing and requiring all forms to be completed and shirtsleeves rolled up before entering the flu shot area. Everyone will be required to wear masks.
Also, nationally, some physician groups contracted with UnitedHealth will set up tent areas so shots can be given outdoors, a spokesperson said.
Kaiser Permanente plans drive-thru vaccinations at some of its medical facilities and is testing touch-free screening and check-in procedures at some locations.
Geisinger Health, a regional health provider in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said it, too, would have outdoor flu vaccination programs at its facilities.
Additionally, Geisinger is making it mandatory for all employees to receive the flu vaccine this year, said Mark Shelly, the systems director of infection prevention and control. By taking this step, we hope to convey to our neighbors the importance of the flu vaccine for everyone.
Q: Usually I Get A Flu Shot At Work Will That Be An Option This Year
Aiming to avoid risky indoor gatherings, many employers are reluctant to sponsor the on-site flu clinics theyve offered in years past. And with so many people continuing to work from home, theres less need to bring flu shots to employees on the job. Instead, many employers are encouraging workers to get shots from their primary care doctors, at pharmacies or in other community settings. Insurance will generally cover the cost of the vaccine.
Some employers are considering offering vouchers for flu shots to their uninsured workers or those who dont participate in the company plan, said Julie Stone, managing director for health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson, a consulting firm. The vouchers could allow workers to get the shot at a particular lab at no cost, for example.
Some employers are starting to think about how they might use their parking lots for administering drive-thru flu shots, said Dr. David Zieg, clinical services leader for benefits consultant Mercer.
Although federal law allows employers to require employees to get flu shots, that step is typically taken only by health care facilities and some universities where people live and work closely together, Zieg said.
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Getting A Flu Vaccine During The Covid
Yes. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your familys health every year. Take recommended precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19 while getting your flu vaccine.
Yes. Wearing a mask and physical distancing can help protect you and others from respiratory viruses, like flu and the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the best way to reduce your risk of flu illness and its potentially serious complications is for everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine each year. By getting a flu vaccine, you may also be protecting people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.
Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time.
Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you havent gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
While limited data exist on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.
If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider.
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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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.
How To Get Vaccinated Against Influenza
Influenza vaccines are given as an injection, usually in the upper arm. It is important to get the right vaccine for your age. Your immunisation provider can tell you which vaccine they will use for you or your child’s influenza immunisation.
Influenza vaccines available under the NIP for the 2022 season include:
- VaxiGrip Tetra
The Therapeutic Goods Administration website provides product information and consumer medicine information for each vaccine available.
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Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza
Yearly influenza vaccination is recommended for people aged 6 months and over. Anyone who wants to protect themselves against influenza can talk to their immunisation provider about getting vaccinated.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook includes more information about specific groups who should get vaccinated against influenza.
The following people are more at risk of complications from influenza and are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- People aged 65 years or over.
- People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease:
- cardiac disease
- haematological disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
Children under nine years receiving their influenza vaccination for the first time require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month.
In some states and territories, influenza vaccines may also be provided for free to other people not listed above. Speak to your immunisation provider or contact your state or territory Department of Health to find out.
People who are not eligible for a free vaccine can purchase the vaccine from their immunisation provider.
Groups Who Should Especially Get The Vaccine
The flu shot can protect you against the flu. Because of this, it can reduce your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. This can lead to serious complications. You should especially receive the flu vaccine this season if youre:
- at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
- capable of spreading the flu to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.
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Testing And Treatment Of Respiratory Illness When Sars
While waiting on results of testing, non-hospitalized persons with acute respiratory symptoms should self-isolate at home. Even if people test negative for both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses, they should self-isolate because of the potential for false negative testing results depending upon what kind of test was done and the level of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus transmission in the community. Persons not hospitalized with suspected or confirmed influenza who are at increased risk for complications from influenza should receive antiviral treatment for influenza as soon as possible, regardless of illness duration.
For hospitalized patients, empiric oseltamivir treatment should be started as soon as possible for patients with suspected influenza without waiting for influenza testing results. Get more information on testing and treatment when SARS-CoV-2 and flu viruses are co-circulating.
CDC has developed clinical algorithms that can help guide decisions for influenza testing and treatment when SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses are co-circulating.
FDA-approved antiviral medications for treatment of influenza have no activity against SARS-CoV-2 viruses, nor do they interact with medications used for treatment of COVID-19 patients. If a patient who is at higher risk for influenza complications is diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus co-infection, they should receive antiviral treatment for influenza.