September 6, 2018
Influenza vaccination is the single most important way to prevent the flu virus and its potentially life-threatening complications. Everyone six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine each year.
Here’s what you need to know, including some changes for the 2018-19 season.
Special Guidelines for Children
Children under age 9 who have not had the vaccine previously, or who have only ever had one dose previously, should receive a two-dose series, with each dose being at least 28 days apart.
During the 2017-18 flu season, 179 children died as a result of complications from the flu. About 80 percent of these children had not been vaccinated. Fifty percent of the cases occurred in previously healthy children.
As this data shows, flu complications are not limited to people with other chronic health conditions. An increased risk of complications has been noted in children under age 2, pregnant women, and seniors.
FluMist is Back
FluMist (the nasal vaccine) has returned to the market after being out of recommended use for the past three years because of its lack of effectiveness in combating the H1N1 flu strain. Now that the FluMist's H1N1 vaccine strain has been changed, it is expected to be more effective."
The CDC identifies FluMist as an option for healthy people ages 2 to 49. While the CDC does not give a preferential recommendation for FluMist vs. injectable flu vaccine, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children get the injectable vaccine, unless the child would otherwise go unvaccinated.
Should Seniors Get the High-Dose Flu Vaccine?
A high-dose flu vaccine is an option for seniors. Current data, however, does not indicate the high-dose vaccine is more effective than the regular injectable flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
Can the Flu Shot Cause the Flu?
The flu vaccine does not and cannot cause the flu. This is also true of the nasal vaccine which is safe and does not cause flu in those who receive it or are in contact with recipients—as long as patients are not in protected environments, such as bone marrow transplant units.
On occasion the vaccine causes an immune response that can result headache, body aches, or fever that is mistaken for influenza. It is not. Although flu vaccine recipients may still get the flu, their illness is likely to be less severe.
What Are the Symptoms of Flu?
Influenza is characterized by a specific set of symptoms, including the sudden onset of high fever, chills, sore throat, cough, body aches and headache. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza. A stomach bug is not “the flu.” The flu vaccine also does not prevent the common cold or any other viral infection.
Should People With a Cold or Egg Allergy Avoid the Vaccine?
If you have a mild illness, such as cold symptoms, sore throat, low-grade fever or are taking antibiotics, you can still get vaccinated.
Most people who have a documented egg allergy can still be vaccinated. Egg-free recombinant vaccine products are available for those 18 years and older. Talk with an allergist to understand your best options.