9 Things You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine
Fall is officially here, which means it’s time to start thinking about getting flu shots for your family before your entire house is a cacophony of sniffles and sneezes. But, like most people, you probably have questions about the flu vaccine. Here are 9 things you should know:
1. The Flu Vaccine is the best Way to Protect Young Children
The flu virus can cause serious complications and death, even in healthy children. This is why it’s important to protect your child each year with the flu vaccine. Consider these facts: Each year, on average, 5% to 20% of people in the US gets the flu, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from complications. In the 2015-2016 season, 77 children died from the flu. Experts agree this may be a low estimate since many flu deaths are not reported or caused by flu complications such as pneumonia.
While the flu can be treated with antiviral medications, these drugs tend to be less effective if not started early enough. They can also be quite expensive and come with nasty side effects.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend that individuals 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against influenza. Children with asthma, diabetes and weakened immune systems are at a much higher risk for developing complications from influenza, such as pneumonia.
2. Children with an Egg Allergy May Still Receive the Flu Vaccine
Children with an egg allergy may safely receive the flu shot from their pediatrician without seeing an allergy specialist. Those children with a particularly severe egg allergy may be asked by their pediatrician to see an allergist.
3. The Flu Vaccine is Only Available This Year in Shot Form
Everyone always talks about getting a flu shot, but in years past, you could receive immunization via a nasal spray, which was called the live attenuated quadrivalent influenza vaccine, or LAIV. But these sprays were found to not protect against the predominant strain of the influenza virus and therefore have not been recommended for this season.
This year’s vaccine is given by injection and has been approved for children 6 months of age and older. Depending on the number of flu strains it contains, it is available in both trivalent (IIV3 – two A and one B virus) and quadrivalent (IIV4 – two A and two B viruses) forms.
4. You Cannot Get the Flu from the Flu Vaccine
Many people forego getting the flu vaccine because they believe it will give them the flu. This is simply not the case. Flu vaccines are made from viruses that have been made inactive (AKA killed). While some individuals may experience mild symptoms afterward, such as headaches, chills, and nausea, these side effects do not happen to everyone, are very mild, and usually last a very short time. The most common complaint is of tenderness at the injection site.
5. All Forms of Vaccine Are Effective
The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for this season contain the same three strains as the trivalent vaccine, with the addition of a B strain. Although this may offer improved protection, the AAP does not say one type of flu vaccine is more effective over another.
6. The Vaccine Does Not Guarantee You Will Not Get the Flu
It is believed that flu vaccines are about 60% effective. Some people are surprised to hear this as they believe the vaccine is 100% effective. While the medical community would like that number to be higher, it should be noted that should you be vaccinated and get the flu, it will be a much milder form that only last a short period of time. This could be the difference of having the sniffles for a couple of days instead of missing a week of school or work in bed feeling miserable with aches, fever and nausea.
7. The Flu Vaccine Does Not Cause Autism
There has been much speculation in the last few years that childhood vaccines are responsible for the increasing cases of autism. It should be noted, however, that a large body of research shows that the flu vaccine is safe and is not associated with autism.
8. It is Safe to Give the Flu Vaccine at the Same Time as Other Vaccines
It is quite safe to give the flu vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, though they should be given at different places on the body. It is also important to note that children between the age of 6 months through 8 years may require two doses space one month apart to be fully protected. The first dosage should be received as soon as the vaccine has been made available with their community. For many, that would be right now.
9. Don’t Put Off Getting Your Flu Shot
There are only so many flu shots to go around each year. If you wait too long, you may find your pediatrician or local walk-in clinic runs out and you’ll have to drive out of town to find a supply. Shipments of this year’s influenza have already begun and will continue through the fall and early part of winter. So, call your family doctor or someone at your local urgent care center to get your shots as soon as you can.
Hopefully these 9 facts have answered any questions you might have and put your mind at ease about vaccinating yourself and your family from influenza this year. Be sure to make an appointment with you family doctor or walk into your local urgent care center to receive your shot.
UrgentWay is now offering flu shots. Simply walk in and get vaccinated quickly.