Who Should Have The Vaccine
In 2021/22 flu season, the following people are eligible to receive the flu vaccine for free:
- All children aged 2 to 15 on 31st Aug 2021
- Those aged 50 years or over
- Those in long-term residential care homes
- Frontline health and social care workers
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- Those aged 6 months to 65 years in at-risk groups including people with the following health conditions:
- Respiratory diseases, including asthma
- Heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease
- Neurological conditions including learning disability
- A severely weakened immune system , a missing spleen, sickle cell anaemia or coeliac disease
- Being seriously overweight
Babies under 6 months old are too young to receive a flu vaccine. This is because they have maternal antibodies passed on from their mother which prevent the vaccine from working so well. Flu vaccination is offered to all pregnant women in the UK . As well as protecting pregnant women themselves, this also helps to protect their newborn babies from flu.
Your doctor may recommend the flu vaccine in other circumstances as well.
Q& a With Pharmacy Expert Hai Tran Pharmd
As the first cases of flu are reported in Los Angeles this season, public health experts are urging anyone who isn’t already vaccinated to get the flu shot. It’s the best protection against the flu, which could pummel the U.S. this winter after nearly disappearing last year.
“Getting vaccinated against the flu reduces your risk of becoming infected as well as your risk of being hospitalized with an infection or dying,” said clinical pharmacist Hai Tran, PharmD, associate director of Pharmacy at Cedars-Sinai. “You not only protect yourself but also those around you, and you are helping build the herd immunity that protects the most vulnerable people in our community.”
With everyone paying more attention to how vaccines work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Cedars-Sinai Newsroom interviewed Tran to get a closer look at the flu vaccine. It’s easy to take this long-established tool for granted, but a lot of work throughout the year goes into developing a new formulation of the shot each season.
We spoke with Tran for more details on the flu shot’s origins, how it works and how it’s developed each year.
The Flu Shot Is Effective
The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on:
- how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses
- the health and age of the person getting the flu shot
The viruses circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.
It’s also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. The seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining 2 or 3 viruses, even when theres:
- a less-than-ideal match
- lower effectiveness against one virus
If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.
Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications.
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When Should I Get The Flu Vaccine
Make plans to get vaccinated early in the fall before flu season begins. You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial.
Should I Get The Flu Vaccine If I’m Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
Years of studies and observation show that you can safely get a flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Babies cannot get the vaccine until six months old. Because antibodies from the vaccine pass onto a fetus in the womb and through breast milk, you protect your baby even more by getting vaccinated.
Pregnant people should not get the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine. Those with a life-threatening egg allergy should not get the flu vaccine, whether pregnant or not.
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How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine gives the best protection against flu.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there’s still a chance you might get flu.
If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.
What’s An ‘attenuated’ Or Weakened Flu Vaccine
There is one kind of flu vaccine that does contain a livebut weakenedvirus. That’s the nasal mist, which is available for non-pregnant people age 2 to 49 with no serious underlying health conditions.
For this vaccine, the CDC explains that the viruses are first grown in eggs just as they are for the injection. But then instead of being killed, the viruses go through a different production process that weakens them. According to the CDC, “The weakened-viruses are cold-adapted, which means they are designed to only multiply at the cooler temperatures found within the nose, and not the lungs or other areas where warmer temperatures exist.”
“It’s a miracle of modern science,” says Dr. Schaffner. “The viruses are engineered on a molecular level, so they can’t multiply at the higher temperature that’s just a tiny bit higher in the lung compared to the nose. The viruses are incapable of multiplying at that temperature, so they can’t produce influenza at all.”
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How Effective Are Flu Vaccines In Children
Vaccination has been found in most seasons to provide a similar level of protection against flu illness in children to that seen among adults.
In several studies, flu vaccine effectiveness was higher among children who received two doses of flu vaccine the first season that they were vaccinated compared to partially vaccinated children who only received a single dose of flu vaccine. However, in some seasons, partially vaccinated children still receive some protection.
In addition to preventing illness, flu vaccine can prevent severe, life-threatening complications in children, for example:
- A 2014 study showed that flu vaccine reduced childrens risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012.
- In 2017, a study in the journal Pediatrics external icon was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a childs risk of dying from flu. The study, which looked at data from four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half among children with underlying, higher risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds among healthy children.
How Effective Are Vaccines
Vaccine effectiveness varies depending on the outcome being measured, the age group affected , and the match between vaccine and circulating influenza strains.
Estimates of flu vaccine effectiveness is 40-60% in the United States and 30-60% in Australia. This means 30-60% of those vaccinated are less likely to become seriously ill or die from influenza.
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Groups Who Should Especially Get The Vaccine
The flu shot can protect you against the flu. Because of this, it can reduce your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. This can lead to serious complications. You should especially receive the flu vaccine this season if youre:
- at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
- capable of spreading the flu to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.
Can I Get The Flu Shot If I’m Pregnant
Yes, the CDC recommends receiving a flu shot during pregnancy. In fact, it is recommended that all women who are pregnant or may become pregnant during the flu season receive a flu shot during any trimester. A flu shot protects both the mother and the baby from getting the flu since the mother can pass some of the antibodies onto the baby. Any of the age-appropriate flu shots may be used. It is important that pregnant women only receive a flu shot the nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.
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Northern Hemisphere Influenza Season
The composition of trivalent virus vaccines for use in the 2017â2018 Northern Hemisphere influenza season recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on August 25, 2017, was:
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 pdm09âlike virus
- an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 -like virus
- a B/Brisbane/60/2008âlike virus
In addition to these components, quadrivalent vaccines will also include a B/Phuket/3073/2013âlike virus .
In California, some emergency systems were strained by a spike in H3N2 flu cases. In addition, some areas experienced local shortages of oseltamivir. The severity of the flu season seemed somewhat comparable to the 2009â10 swine flu outbreak. A February 2018 CDC interim report estimated the vaccine effectiveness to be 25% against H3N2, 67% against H1N1, and 42% against influenza B.
How Long Is The Flu Shot Effective
Once you get your flu shot, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop antibodies and provide protection against the flu, Olulade explains.
The timing of when you get the vaccine matters, too. You should get it when flu starts to spread in your community but in most cases by the end of October is the ideal time, she explains. If you get it too early, like in July or August, then you may not get enough protection to last through flu season because the protection fades over time.
Since immunity wanes over time, and new strains appear, a shot is really meant to just last for the current season, according to the CDC. And thats why you need the vaccine each year.
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What York Region Does
- Monitors and investigates influenza cases and outbreaks
- Investigates unusual disease patterns that could indicate an increase in severity of influenza illness in the community
- Educates the public about infection prevention and control
- Provides the flu vaccine to hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and workplaces
- Ensure pharmacies and health care providers are handling and storing vaccines properly
- Provides the flu vaccine to health care providers offices
What You Need To Know About The 2021
While no one knows for sure just how bad the upcoming flu season will be, heres some flu information we know so far:
The 2020-2021 flu season wasunusually mildcompared to whats been seen in past years. This could be due to multiple factors, including higher flu vaccination rates during 2020 and the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on social distancing and hand washing. Experts are not sure if this will be the case again for the 2021-2022 flu season.
Flu transmission rates in other countries are lower than usual so far this year. The World Health Organization meets twice a year in February and September to review flu activity around the world and recommend which strains to include in the flu vaccine. Flu transmission in the Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia can help predict what the U.S. flu season might be like. Australia had a record low number of cases of the flu during 2021. Hopefully, that means we will too.
Even though the flu vaccine doesnt protect against all strains of the flu, its still recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. The flu vaccine is typically about 40% to 60% effective, and its hard to predict if the current flu vaccines will be a good match for the strains going around. But its still one of the best ways to help prevent getting sick with the flu.
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Flu Vaccine For Frontline Health And Social Care Workers
If you’re a frontline health and social care worker, your employer should offer you a flu vaccine. They may give the vaccine at your workplace.
You can also have an NHS flu vaccine at a GP surgery or a pharmacy if:
- you’re a health or social care worker employed by a registered residential care or nursing home, registered homecare organisation or a hospice
- you work in NHS primary care and have direct contact with patients this includes contractors, non-clinical staff and locums
- you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both
Flu Vaccine For People With Long
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you’re at risk of serious problems if you get flu.
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Do Recent Vaccine Effectiveness Study Results Support Flu Vaccination
The large numbers of flu-associated illnesses and deaths in the United States, combined with the evidence from many studies that show flu vaccines help to protect against flu illness and its potentially serious complications, support the current U.S. flu vaccination recommendations. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October.
Here’s How Inactivated Flu Vaccines Are Made
The egg-based process to produce the majority of flu vaccines was first developed more than 70 years ago, explains the CDC. The process starts with the CDC or another lab in the World Health Organization Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System. These pubic health entities provide private manufacturers with the viruses that have been chosen for the season’s vaccine, says the CDC. These viruses are then grown in eggs according to very strict regulations established by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“The technology was developed in the late 1930s and 40s, when scientists first discovered you could grow the influenza virus in chicken eggs,” William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Health.
“The technology is very elaborate. The eggs have to be especially pure, bred specially on special farms. Those chickens are under cover so that wild birds can’t get at them and infect them,” says Dr. Schaffner. “And when you consider that we have to produce millions and millions of doses of vaccines, we need a lot of eggs.”
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What Side Effects Can Occur After Getting A Flu Vaccine
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of bad case of flu.
A flu shot: The viruses in a flu shot are killed , so you cannot get flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may occur are:
Soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given
The nasal spray: The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. In children, side effects from the nasal spray may include:
In adults, side effects from the nasal spray vaccine may include:
If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually are mild and short-lived. A flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
S Toward Development Of A Universal Influenza Vaccine
A universal influenza vaccine has the capacity to protect against most varieties of influenza strains and subtypes. Many strategies for developing a universal influenza vaccine are based on raising an immune response against influenza proteins that are highly conserved across all strains.58,59 Heterotypic immunity refers to the protection of some individuals to subtypes of influenza virus to which they have not previously been exposed through natural infection or immunization. A possible explanation for cross-protective immunity has arisen from an understanding of the molecular targets of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies directed against various portions of the HA protein.
A specific region of the HA stem is highly conserved among many viral strains, and it has been possible to stimulate the production of stem-targeting antibodies with cross-neutralizing properties in several host species, including nonhuman primates.60 Immune responses to the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza infection include broadly cross-reactive antibodies against the HA stalk and head domain epitopes of multiple influenza strains.61 The majority of HA-specific antibodies from healthy recipients of the pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine also showed broad cross-reactivity to the HA head, and three broad cross-reactive antibodies were shown to bind the HA stem.62
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