Top 11 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine Now
You'll Miss Work, School, and Maybe a Paycheck
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 late summer/early fall -- many people wait too long, or never get it at all.
However, it's important to know that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing flu, but it drastically reduces your chances. In the previous 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC reported that the flu vaccine was 60 percent effective at preventing flu, similar to other seasons. Hand washing and avoiding those with the flu makes good sense, too.
Options and CDC Updates: 2016-2017
An important update: for the 2016-2017 flu season the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent) NOT be used as a flu vaccine due to low effectiveness in the previous flu season. However, CDC still DOES recommend the inactivated influenza vaccine or recombinant influenza vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. This means everyone eligible should get a shot this year.
Look Out For Your Little One
In the 2016-2017 flu season, the ACIP group recommends either the use of the inactivated influenza vaccine or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone aged 6 months or older who is eligible. In 2016-17 ACIP does NOT recommend the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent) do to poor flu coverage last year. Children 6 months to 8 years require 2 vaccine doses (given ≥4 weeks apart) during their first season of vaccination.
2016-2017 Flu Strains
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. Strains in the 2016–17 U.S. trivalent influenza vaccines will be A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus, A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)–like virus, and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus (Victoria lineage). Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional influenza B virus strain, a B/Phuket/3073/2013–like virus (Yamagata lineage).
The Flu Vaccine is Affordable and Convenient
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.
Seniors Can Get Even More Protection
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 response. Side effects from flu shots may include injection site soreness, fever, headache, and fatigue.
Yes: You Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year
In fact, 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.
One Shot Can Protect You and Your Newborn
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 few months of life at least - at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.
Early Fall is the Perfect Time
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!
Those with Egg Allergy Have an Option
In general, patients with egg allergies can still get other inactivated flu vaccines, including Flucelvax in adults, with their doctors okay. All patients should be observed for at least 15 minutes after vaccination for signs of any allergic reaction or fainting so treatment can be given.
New for this year: Anyone with a severe history of egg allergy (i.e., any symptom other than hives) should be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting under the supervision of a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
History Has Proven: The Flu is a Monster
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 flu monster today and go get your vaccine.
Finished: Top 11 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Vaccine Now
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ACIP votes down use of LAIV for 2016-2017 flu season. June 22, 2016. Accessed 7/27/2016 at http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0622-laiv-flu.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): MMWR. Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2016–17 Influenza Season. August 26, 2016 / 65(5);1–54. Accessed August 26, 2016 at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6505a1.htm?s_cid=rr6505a1_w
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu Vaccine Nearly 60 Percent Effective. February 24, 2016. Accessed 7/27/2016 at http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/flu-vaccine-60-percent.html
- Dicker R. Days and Dollars Lost to the Flu Hit a Fever Pitch Last Season. Daily Finance September 21, 2011. Accessed 7/27/2016. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/09/21/flu-season-economic-impact-vaccine-walgreens/
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Misconceptions about seasonal flu and flu vaccines. Questions and Answers. Last updated: May 30, 2013. Accessed 7/27/2016. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm