Perhaps you are hesitating about the need to keep your own and your loved one’s flu defenses up to date. We spell out the vaccination program’s why, when, and who.
- Is getting a flu jab more critical this season?
- When is the flu season and the best time to have the jab?
- Who should have the jab?
- Who should not have the jab?
- I don’t like injections! Is there an alternative?
- Does having the flu jab mean I won’t get the flu?
- I had the jab last year. Do I need another jab this season?
- Can I have flu and covid-19 vaccinations simultaneously?
Is getting a flu jab more critical this season?
According to the Centers for Disease Control estimates, on average, 36,000 deaths in America result from flu infection. Up to 20% of Americans experience a bout of flu each year. Thanks to the vaccination program, most people experience only mild symptoms and recover within days.
If you get the flu after being vaccinated, your illness will likely be milder and shorter. There is a far lower risk of complications that might require hospitalization.
Because of covid, many more people have been wearing masks or in isolation. Fewer people have suffered from airborne diseases such as the flu, which means that many people will have less immunity than in earlier flu seasons.
The flu vaccine does not protect you from Covid-19 or the coronavirus variants, so this winter, it is even more essential to ensure your covid vaccinations are up-to-date.
When is the flu season and the best time to have the jab?
The flu is with us throughout the year, but the ‘season,’ i.e., the time of year when the infection is most common, is between September and May. The CDC recommends vaccination between September and October. Flu activity peaks in February and continues into May. Vaccination during November or even later is still advisable as it protects throughout the ‘season.’
Adults, seniors, and those most at risk, e.g., people with heart or lung conditions, should not get vaccinated earlier than August. Protection lessens over time, and it is vital to have the most effective defense when the infection is most common.
Who should have the jab?
The short answer is everyone over the age of six months. As with the coronavirus, by protecting yourself, you help to protect all those with whom you come into contact. Vaccination is essential for individuals at greater risk of complications from the flu. It is equally vital for those in close contact with people for whom flu vaccination is inappropriate.
Who should not have the jab?
- Children under the age of six months
- Anyone who is allergic to any ingredient in the vaccine
- Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to an earlier flu vaccine dose
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have an allergy, e.g., to eggs or reacted to an earlier flu vaccine dose. Alternative vaccine options may give you the benefits of flu protection without causing these adverse reactions.
I don’t like injections! Is there an alternative?
Jabs, injections, none of us enjoy them. Some of us hate or fear them.
Maybe you are one of those who dread the thought of injections. Don’t let it stop you from benefitting from the security of being vaccinated. There are alternatives.
- Nasal spray vaccine – all the current nasal spray flu vaccines are quadrivalent. Quadrivalent vaccines give you immunity from the four major flu viruses.
Nasal spray flu vaccines are for healthy non-pregnant people ages two, 2 through 49 years. Nasal spray vaccines are not suitable for people with certain medical conditions. Talk to your doctor if you prefer a nasal spray vaccine. For more information, see Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine [LAIV] (The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine …
- Flu injection by Jet Injector
Instead of a needle, the jet injector uses a narrow fluid stream at high pressure to penetrate the skin and deliver the vaccine. The absence of a needle removes much of the concern many people have about the traditional vaccination process.
The procedure was developed in the1960’s and used successfully in large-scale programs for diseases such as smallpox.
Although only one vaccine is approved (AFLURIA Quadrivalent®) for use via jet injection, for people ages two through 64, it may also be delivered, as usual, by a needle.
In earlier studies, the trivalent, ALFLURIA®, gave similar levels of immune protection using either method. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/jet-injector.htm
Does having the flu jab mean I won’t get the flu?
No vaccine can guarantee 100% protection. The flu vaccines have shown remarkable success in protecting American citizens from needing to visit their doctor for influenza-associated conditions. During the 2019-2020 season, flu vaccination is estimated to have saved 7.5 million illnesses and 3.7million such visits. A 2021 survey (ScienceDirect) estimates influenza vaccinations were associated with a 26% reduction in the need for admission to an ICU.
If you have been vaccinated and develop the flu, your symptoms will likely be milder and less long-lasting. Your chances of hospitalization and the need for intensive care (and the associated expenses) are reduced.
I had the jab last year. Do I need another jab this season?
For your protection and those close to you, it is vital to maintain your immunity to the flu virus. The main reason is that the virus slowly but constantly mutates (changes). As the virus mutates, a new strain of the virus emerges. Each new strain may be resistant to the vaccine giving you protection. Scientists constantly track the new flu strains as they seem so that they can update the vaccine.
Scientists are developing broad-spectrum or “universal vaccines.” that will defend us against more than one type of flu and for longer, perhaps 3-5 years. Universal flu vaccines may not be available for five to ten years.
So if your doctor recommends it, have the most recent vaccine and protect yourself and those close to you.
Can I have flu and covid-19 vaccinations simultaneously?
First, it should be clear that the covid and flu vaccinations are not interchangeable. A covid vaccination will not protect you from the flu virus and vice versa; a seasonal flu jab is not a defense against covid. It would be best if you were up-to-date with both vaccines. There is no reason not to have these vaccines administered during a single visit to your healthcare provider.
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