August 30, 2011--
The Centers for Disease Control has issued its report for this season to help you decide about flu vaccinations.
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
Flu vaccine is available now. With over 155 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine available this year and several new flu vaccine manufacturers, everyone should be able to get a flu vaccine. And that is good news because in the past shortages have occurred. The flu vaccine recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) continue to state that all persons 6 months and older should get a yearly flu shot. There are some exceptions which are stated below from the CDC in this article.
How long does immunity from influenza vaccine last?
Protection from influenza vaccine is thought to persist for a year or less because of waning antibody and because of changes in the circulating influenza virus from year to year.
There are two types of vaccines:
· The “flu shot” — an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
There are three different flu shots available:
· The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The viruses in the vaccine can change each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body. Information specific to the 2011-2012 season, including the vaccine formulation, can be found at 2011-2012 Flu Season.
When to Get Vaccinated
CDC recommends that people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community. Vaccination before December is best since this timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest. CDC continues to encourage people to get vaccinated throughout the flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Over the course of the flu season, many different influenza viruses can circulate at different times and in different places. As long as flu viruses are still spreading in the community, vaccination can provide protective benefit.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
On February 24, 2010 vaccine experts voted that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the 2010-2011 influenza season. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people.
1. Pregnant women
2. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
3. People 50 years of age and older
4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
· People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
· People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
· People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
· Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
· People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)
Where Can I Get Vaccinated?
CVS Pharmacies around the nation have the flu vaccine. Use their locator at the link provided to find the pharmacy near you.
CVS Pharmacies have had flu vaccine for about a month and report there should be no shortages; however, you should get your flu shot starting now. They accept some insurance, and without insurance the cost is $18. The flu shot is free for people with Medicare Part B. Shots are given on a drop in basis.
Local Health Departments usually begin conducting flu clinics in September, so check with your local health department for dates, times and cost if there is any. Flu shots can be free.
Walmart and Sam’s Club gave flu shots at their pharmacy locations last year. Check with your local store to see if they are offering them this year as well.
Are Shots Free?
For those families that need help getting a flu shot for their kids, some sources of free flu shots to consider might include:
· your local health department
· a pediatrician that participates in the Vaccines for Children program
· a local health clinic that gives other free or low cost vaccines
· a church sponsored flu clinic
· a school based flu clinic