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Top 11 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine Now

Medically reviewed on Aug 13, 2015 by L. Anderson, PharmD

Reason #11: You'll Miss Work, and Maybe a Paycheck

No doubt, if you have your choice between getting the flu and going to work, you should prefer work. Each year, the flu season results in millions of lost work days at a cost of billions of dollars. Although the CDC says people should get a flu vaccine when available, typically in mid-August, many people wait. Without a vaccine, you are at greater risk of getting the flu and missing work or school. In the 2014-2015 season some predicted strains contained in the vaccine were different than the actual virus that circulated; however, those who did receive the vaccine were partially protected. The 2015-2016 flu vaccine has been updated this year with 2 new strains.

Reason #10: Your Fear of Needles is No Longer a Valid Excuse

Shudder at the thought of the shot? There is a nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist Quadrivalent. But FluMist, a live-attentuated vaccine, can't be used by everyone. The nasal spray is approved for healthy people 2 through 49 years of age. Children younger than 2, adults over 49, anyone with asthma, pregnant women, and some other groups can't use FluMist. Side effects may include a runny nose or headache in adults; children may also have a fever, wheezing, vomiting and muscle aches. Two options for those ages 18 to 64: Fluzone Intradermal has a very short needle for skin (intradermal) injection and Afluria use with the Stratis needle-free jet injector is now approved.

Reason #9: Look Out For Your Little One

Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to flu infection. Sadly, last year, over 140 children died from flu complications. Children with health problems like asthma or diabetes are at a high risk of developing complications. In the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC recommends either the use of the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) or the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) when either is available for all persons aged ≥6 months who do not have contraindications. Children 6 months to 8 years require 2 vaccine doses (given ≥4 weeks apart) during their first season of vaccination.

Reason #8: Quadrivalent Vaccines Can Protect You Even More

The 2015-2016 trivalent flu vaccine contains 3 flu strains (2 A's and a B strain), 2 of which are new for this season. A quadrivalent version of the flu vaccine is also available that protects against two A and two B strains. Fluarix and FluLaval Quadrivalent vaccines can be used in ages 3 and over; Fluzone Quadrivalent can be given if 6 months or older. FluMist Quadrivalent nasal vaccine can only be given to healthy, nonpregnant persons 2 to 49 years old without specific contraindications. Quadrivalent vaccines can give broader protection during the flu season, but experts state not to delay getting your vaccine if a particular formulation is not available.

Reason #7: The Flu Vaccine is Affordable and Convenient

The flu vaccine has never been easier to get. You don't have to wait in long lines or make a future appointment - the flu vaccine can be found at most pharmacies and major retailers such as Target, CVS or Walgreens. Across the country, most pharmacists are now licensed to immunize, meaning they can give you the vaccine with little waiting. In addition, most pharmacies or clinics will accept insurance for the vaccine which results in little or no copay to you. If you have no insurance, check to see if your local health clinic or retail pharmacy is offering free vaccines. Even if you have to pay, the average $30 cash fee is well worth the price.

Reason #6: Seniors Can Get Even More Protection

Fluzone High Dose vaccine is specifically made for adults 65 years of age and older. Fluzone, a trivalent vaccine, contains four times the amount of antigen of the regular flu vaccine. This higher dose for seniors can provide a stronger immune response. Boosting the immune system is especially important for older patients who are at a greater risk of flu complications.

In November 2014, the FDA also approved Fluad (influenza vaccine, adjuvanted), a trivalent flu vaccine injection for adults 65 years and older. Fluad contains the adjuvant squalene, a naturally occurring substance found in humans, animals and plants. Adjuvants are incorporated into some vaccine formulations to boost the immune repsonse. Side effects from flu shots may include injection site soreness, fever, headache, and fatigue.

Reason #5: You Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year

You can't predict the severity of the flu season, and flu vaccine effectiveness does not last from year to year. Each year, experts research which flu strains are most likely to be circulating, so the strains that make up the flu vaccine may change, as they have this year. In addition, studies have shown that the body's ability to fight off the flu after a vaccine wanes over time, so that's another reason why you need a vaccine each year - as soon it's available according to the CDC - preferably by October. It takes 14 days for immunity to build to fight the virus, so don't expect immediate protection. CDC lists available flu vaccines for the 2015-2016 season.

Reason #4: One Shot Can Protect You and Your Newborn

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends an annual flu vaccine for anyone 6 months of age or older, including pregnant women, if there are no contraindications. Pregnant women cannot use the FluMist live nasal flu vaccine and must receive the inactivated influenza vaccine. However, there's an added value to the seasonal flu vaccine for pregnant women - not only does it protect them against the flu, it also protects their newborn infants for up to the first six months of life - at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.

Reason #3: Early Fall is the Perfect Time

Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year. In fact, the 2015-2016 flu vaccine is already available at many pharmacies throughout the nation. Flu season can start early, and it takes about two weeks after your vaccination for the full antibody effect to develop and provide flu protection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated in August, September or early October, before the flu season really kicks in. But it's never too late to get the flu vaccine if you miss out. Seasonal influenza disease usually peaks in January and February most years, but can occur as late as May or as early as December (as it did in 2013). And be sure to get re-vaccinated each fall!

Reason #2: Those with Egg Allergy Have an Option

If you are allergic to eggs you can still be protected. Some flu vaccines, including injections and nasal FluMist, are made with egg proteins. However, there is now an option for patients with a history of hives related to egg exposure - FluBlok for people 18 years and older. Flublok, a trivalent vaccine, does not contain egg proteins. In general, patients with egg allergies can still get other inactivated flu vaccines, including Flucelvax in adults, with their doctors okay, but they should be observed for at least 30 minutes for signs of any allergic reaction so treatment can be given. Review more about the ACIP recommendations for people with egg allergies.

And the #1 Reason: Flu is a Monster

If you've ever had the flu, you know it's not your average virus. The illness can land you flat on your back and its effects can span over 2 weeks. For kids under 2, seniors, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease or diabetes, the flu can be especially severe, or even fatal. Pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of health conditions are possibilities. And, no, the flu vaccine CANNOT cause the flu (just in case you are trying to use this excuse in a last ditch effort). The vaccine is made up of inactivated (killed) or weakened viruses that have no ability to infect the lungs. So, go on - you're out of excuses - fight off the monster today and go get your vaccine.

Finished: Top 11 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine Now

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