Special to the Enterprise
October 18, 2013
This year manufactures project they will produce 135 to 139 million doses of influenza vaccine for use in the United States during the 2013-2014 influenza season.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization, and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
HOW DO FLU VACCINES WORK?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called Trivalent). In addition, this season flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called quadrivalent) are also available. The CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine this season, it’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
*People who are at high risk of developing serious complications if they get sick with the flu.
*People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
*People over 65 years of age.
*People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.
*Health care personnel.
REGARDING EGG ALLERGY
People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs, or who have a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, may be advised not to get vaccinated. People who have had a mild reaction to egg, that is, one which only involved hives — may receive the flu shot with additional precautions. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain small amount of egg.
WHO SHOULD NOT
There are some people who should NOT get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include people who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination; children younger than 6 months of age; people who have a moderate-to-severe illness with or without a fever; and people with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
WHEN SHOULD I
Flu vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available, ideally by October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even in January or later. While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.
WHY DO I NEED A FLU
VACCINE EVERY YEAR?
A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. This is why the vaccine is updated annually to keep up with the flu viruses as they change. Also, multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time.
DOES FLU VACCINE
WORK RIGHT AWAY?
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way. Most important, antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses. A less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine effectiveness against the virus that is different from what is in the vaccine, but it can still provide some protection against influenza illness. For this reason, even during seasons when there is a less than ideal match, CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination. This is particularly important for people at high risk for serious flu complications and their close contacts.
CAN THE FLU VACCINE
GIVE ME THE FLU?
NO. A flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with flu vaccine viruses that have been “inactivated” and are therefore not infectious or with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The flu shot contains viruses that are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are: Soreness, redness, or swelling, fever, aches. If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and are mild and short-lived. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.