All Posts Tagged: Flu Vaccines

Flu Complications: The Importance of Immunizations

The flu is much more than an illness that simply leaves you bedridden for a few days. In some cases, it can lead to hospitalization and even death; in fact, estimates by the Centers for Disease Control say that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 number in the hundreds of thousands.

With numbers like those, the importance of immunizations is obvious.

What is The Flu?

Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause moderate to severe health complications – from ear infections to pneumonia while triggering other severe issues such as inflammation of the heart and multi-organ failure. Typical flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, particularly in children

How Does The Flu Vaccine Work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body that protect against infections caused by the disease. Vaccines are available both by injection and nasal spray, although the CDC recommends not using the nasal spray as protection against the flu in 2016-17.

There are two types of flu vaccines available, trivalent and quadrivalent. Trivalent vaccines are so named because they consist of three components, and includes a high-dose shot that’s approved for people 65 and over. Quadrivalent vaccines consist of four components.

Trivalent vaccines are considered more traditional and protect against the H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and an influenza B virus. Quadrivalent vaccines protect against an additional B virus.

Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine?

The CDC recommends that everyone six months or older should get an annual flu shot. The vaccination is important for everyone, but especially so for those who are at high risk for influenza complications – including pregnant women, older adults, and young children.

Also, certain chronic medical conditions can increase your risk of serious flu complications, such as asthma, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory complications, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and kidney or liver disease.

Why Should I Get A Flu Shot Every Year?

The flu virus changes every year, and new vaccines designed to keep with those changes are released annually. Last year’s vaccine might not protect you from this year’s virus, while antibodies produced by your immune system decline over time.

Who Shouldn’t Be Vaccinated?

You should check with your physician before getting the flu vaccine if you’re allergic to eggs (most flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein), or if you’ve had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine.

When Should I Get The Vaccine?

You should get immunized as soon after the latest flu vaccine becomes available, which is typically in early fall. But vaccinations are usually offered as long as viruses are circulating. Most flu seasons usually peak in January and even later.

The bottom line is that the flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself from the flu and potentially serious complications that come with it. And flu shots are now widely available – including at pharmacies – and don’t require an appointment.

Read More

Why a Flu Shot is the Best Way to Prevent Influenza

Influenza is a serious, potentially deadly disease that affects countless people in the United States every year. And flu “season” can last a long time – beginning as early as October and lasting even into late May. That said, flu shots are of utmost importance when it comes to preventing the virus for people of all ages, including people 65 and over, who can account for up to 90% of all flu-related deaths each year.

The Importance of A Flu Shot

Getting an annual flu vaccine (either a flu shot or nasal spray vaccine) is the best prevention of getting seasonal flu and potentially spreading it to others. The more people that get a flu shot, the lesser the spread of flu in a community. It’s recommended that anyone six months or older should get a flu shot.

The Best Flu Vaccines For 2016-17

The Centers for Disease Control recommends the injectable flu vaccine for 2016 and not the nasal spray vaccine. Both trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines will be available.

The trivalent flu vaccines include a high-dose shot and a shot made with adjuvant – which helps create a stronger immune response – that is approved for people 65 and over. Quadrivalent flu vaccination includes an intradermal shot, which is injected into the skin and not the muscle and uses a much smaller needle. The intradermal shot is approved for anyone from 18 to 64 years old.

How Flu Vaccines Work

Flu vaccines are effective because of antibodies that develop in the body shortly after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection. Both trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines protect against against the influenza A viruses H1N1 and H3N2, as well as an influenza B virus. The quadrivalent vaccine also protects against an additional B virus.

Flu vaccines are often updated each year to keep pace with changing viruses.

Who Should Get Vaccinated

Again, the CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age or older should get a flu vaccine every season. The flu vaccination is particularly important for anyone at high risk of developing serious complications from the virus. People who are 65 or over are considered high-risk because human immune systems weaken with age.

If vaccine supplies are limited, an importance is placed on making sure certain people get vaccinated, including:

  • People ages 50 and over
  • Children 6 months through 4 years
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season, and women up to two weeks after delivery
  • People who are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • Health care personnel
  • Household contacts and caregivers of people with medical conditions that put them at a higher risk for severe complications of the flu.

There are many others who are included on this list, so make sure to check with your physician or the CDC website to see if you qualify for the high-priority list.

With fall just around the corner, the importance of getting a flu shot for the 2016-17 season cannot be emphasized enough. Not doing so places your health – and potentially the health of others – at an unnecessary risk.

Read More