Why Is The Flu Vaccine Recommended
While the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it still greatly lowers a person’s chances of catching the flu, which can be very serious. It also can make symptoms less severe if someone who got the vaccine does still get the flu.
If you got the flu vaccine last year, it can’t provide enough protection this year, because flu viruses change. That’s why the vaccine is updated each year to include the most current types of the virus.
Sometimes the same virus types are included in the vaccine from one year to the next. Even then, it’s still important to get the yearly flu vaccine because the body’s immunity against the influenza virus declines over time.
Getting the flu vaccine not only protects you from the flu. It also helps protect the people and community around you. The flu vaccine makes someone less likely to get the flu, and therefore less likely to spread the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is a great way to protect people who are at risk from flu, such as the elderly, babies, and people with health conditions such as asthma. Every year thousands of people die from influenza, and getting the flu vaccine is one way to help prevent that.
Why Do I Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year
A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a persons immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.
Feeling Sick After The Flu Shot Doctors Explain Why
One of the most common reasons people put off getting their flu shot – or worse, skip it altogether – is because they think the flu shot will make them sick or even cause them to become infected with the flu itself. But that’s a misconception. Doctors universally agree that neither is true and that getting the flu shot is your best bet for protecting yourself and your loved ones during flu season. That being said, while you can’t get the flu from the flu shot, it is possible to get sick with something else around the time of your shot.
“People can also get sick from other viruses around the time when they get the flu shot,” Michael Ison, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a practicing physician at Northwestern Medicine, tells POPSUGAR. “Cold viruses are very common in the fall and early winter when people get vaccinated, and you can always get sick from non-influenza infections.”
It’s also important to remember that, while the flu vaccine is very effective, it isn’t foolproof. “The flu vaccine developed each year is the best estimate for the flu strains that are around, and if you were exposed to a different strain, you would not be protected,” says Carolyn Kaloostian, MD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of California Keck School of Medicine. Still, better safe than sorry.
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Why Should People Get Vaccinated Against Flu
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and flu can affect people differently, but during typical flu seasons, millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work, school, or family events, or it can result in more serious illness. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help reduce the risk of getting flu and any of its potentially serious complications. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick with influenza, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.
What Does It Mean When People Talk About The Flu Shot Being A Good Match
Tran: Because the influenza virus is constantly evolving, international public health authorities track the dominant strains year-round. In the U.S., the FDA meets in late February or early March to decide which strains the flu shot should protect against during the following flu season. They settle on the top three to four strains that are likely to spread the most easily and cause the worst harm. Some years, the flu vaccine is a good match for the viruses actually circulating, causing it to work very well. Other years, it’s not as good of a match and less effective.
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What About People Who Are Pregnant Expecting To Become Pregnant Or Are Breastfeeding Can They Get A Bivalent Booster Shot Should They
Yes. People who are pregnant, expecting to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding are eligible to get a new bivalent booster shot. It is well understood that primary COVID-19 vaccines and regular booster shots are safe and effective for this group. There is no reason to believe that this will be different for bivalent boosters.
Clinical Trials Launching For New Mrna Flu Vaccines
- What: Testing for new type of flu vaccines based on mRNA technology .
- When: The Pfizer clinical trial is expected to start in mid-August. The Moderna clinical trial for a combined flu/COVID-19 vaccine will start later this summer or fall.
- Where:University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora
- Who is eligible to participate: The new mRNA flu vaccines are being tested first on older adults. People ages 65 to 85 who do not have a history of heart disease are eligible for the Pfizer clinical trial.
- How to get more information: People who wish to be screened to participate my call 720-777-4496 or send an email to
Innovations in vaccines are the direct result of global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Levin has developed and tested vaccines for a variety of infections over several decades and said the recent progress is stunning.
The advancements in developing new approaches to fighting disease, developing vaccines and implementing them have been remarkable, Levin said.
COVID-19 vaccines clearly have saved millions of lives, he said. While more than a million people have died in the U.S. since the pandemic started, Levin said the death toll would have been far greater without the new mRNA vaccines.
We asked Levin to explain more about mRNA vaccines and the groundbreaking clinical trials that are starting this summer.
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Vaccines For Adults 65+
Influenza can make older adults very sick. Two vaccines are approved just for seniors to give better protection against the flu. A high-dose flu vaccine is the preferred choice for adults 65 years and older. It protects against four strains of the influenza virus. If this vaccine is not available, then Fluad® is recommended. Both of these vaccines may cause more soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given, lasting a few days longer than the standard vaccine. If neither of these vaccines are available, do not delay in getting vaccinated. All flu vaccines provide good protection.
How Flu Vaccines Are Made
Ten years ago, in the midst of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, I wrote about the manufacturing process for the H1N1 flu vaccine. It involves billions of chicken eggs.
The most striking feature of the H1N1 flu vaccine manufacturing process is the 1,200,000,000 chicken eggs required to make the 3 billion doses of vaccine that may be required worldwide. There are entire chicken farms in the US and around the world dedicated to producing eggs for the purpose of incubating influenza viruses for use in vaccines. No wonder it takes six months from start to finish.
The post holds up pretty well because, according to the CDC, this is still the way most flu vaccines in America are manufactured. Heres a look at pharmaceutical company GSKs egg-based process:
Two other techniques for making flu vaccines were approved for use in the US in 2012 and 2013 respectively, cell-based flu vaccines:
Both of these new techniques make production quicker, thereby resulting in more effective vaccines because they are more likely to match the strains of whatevers going around.
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The Shots Are ‘bivalent’ Meaning They Target 2 Versions Of The Virus
Half of the mRNA product is targeted against “ancestral” SARS-CoV-2, meaning it’s the same stuff that was in previous vaccines. The other 50% of the dose is designed to combat BA.4 and BA.5, which are the specific versions of Omicron we are dealing with right now.
Having a bivalent product means that we will have good protection if and when the virus mutates again even if it drifts away from the currently-circulating Omicron variants.
The strategy is similar to how vaccine-makers treat influenza. This year’s flu vaccine, for example, is quadrivalent, meaning it is formulated to fight back against four distinct flu types.
How Could Mrna Flu Vaccines Work Better Than Traditional Vaccines
Its easier and faster to develop mRNA vaccines than it is to develop traditional flu vaccines. One benefit of mRNA technology is that vaccine makers can produce the vaccines more quickly.
Since flu strains evolve and change every year, the vaccine makers could wait longer to see what strains are spreading before making educated guesses about which strains that years flu vaccine should combat. As a result, mRNA flu vaccines might better protect against current flu strains.
It is also possible that the influenza proteins made in cells will be better at stimulating an immune response. Or, they might not work as well. Thats why we have to do the experiments, Levin said.
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Who Can Have The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:
- are 65 and over
- have certain health conditions
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- are frontline health workers
- are social care workers who cannot get the vaccine through an occupational health scheme at work
Starting from mid-October, people aged 50 years old or over can have a free NHS flu vaccine. This is so at-risk groups can be offered vaccination first.
If youre in this age group and have a long-term health condition that puts you at risk from flu, you do not have to wait until mid-October.
Influenza Vaccine Production And Design
The most common method used to produce each years seasonal flu vaccine involves a laborious, time-consuming process in which scientists must select vaccine strains months in advance of the upcoming flu season and then grow the selected flu virus strains in chicken eggs. However, sometimes an existing but unexpected flu strain will become prevalent during flu season, making the vaccine a poor match to the circulating strains.
There is also a cell-based production process in which flu virus is grown in cultured mammalian cells, instead of in chicken eggs. This approach is a modest improvement in vaccine production because it does not involve chicken eggs and has the potential for faster flu vaccine manufacturing, but it still requires the tedious process of growing the flu virus.
NIAID and its industry partners have made progress in moving from both the egg-based and cell-based flu vaccine production methods toward recombinant DNA manufacturing for flu vaccines. This method does not require an egg-grown vaccine virus and does not use chicken eggs at all in the production process. Instead, manufacturers isolate a certain protein from a naturally occurring recommended flu vaccine virus. These proteins are then combined with portions of another virus that grows well in insect cells. The resulting recombinant vaccine virus is then mixed with insect cells and allowed to replicate. The flu surface protein called hemagglutinin is then harvested from these cells and purified.
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So How Do You Make These Vaccines
It depends on the platform. For viral-vectored vaccines, you take some of your harmless cold virus after you have added the spike protein DNA to it and grow it in a cell culture. Although the virus has been altered so it cant reproduce in the body, it can still replicate in the specially designed cells in this cell culture.
Youll then have this bulking up of the virus over the course of a few days, anywhere from four litres of cell culture up to maybe 20, 30 litres. Really high-scale production can be carried out in steel tanks the manufacturing environment can look a bit similar to a super-clean, sterile brewery. You have to make sure that your cells are in the best environment possible for them to live and to allow the virus to grow. This requires monitoring many environmental factors in and around the cell culture temperature, oxygen and CO levels, acidity and so on.
You end up with this liquid that is full of the virus that youre interested in. But its also full of materials that you dont want. So then you have what we call downstream processing, where youre purifying the virus vaccine away from all of the other components that youre not interested in.
That downstream process is very important and is highly controlled and evaluated. It involves a lot of filtration and chromatography. At the end you have to have a very safe sterile product that contains only what you want.
What Were The Results Of The Clinical Trials Using Cell
A clinical trial of the previous trivalent formulation of Flucelvax demonstrated effectiveness and safety among persons 18 through 49 years old. In immunogenicity studies among people 18 years and older and 4 through 17 years old, Flucelvax Quadrivalent was found to produce a similar immune response to the trivalent formulation. Post-vaccination symptoms were typical of those seen with other injectable flu vaccines. Flucelvax Quadrivalent was subsequently studied in younger children, and as of October 2021 it is approved for persons 6 months of age and older.
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Why Do I Need An Influenza Vaccine Every Year
- Influenza viruses change from year to year, so each year, the viruses used to make the vaccine change to protect you against the viruses circulating that year.
- Protection from the influenza vaccine can wear off with time, so you need a new one every year to stay protected.
- A/Darwin/9/2021 -like virus
- B/Austria/1359417/2021-like virus
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus
What Are The Main Factors That Influence Which Viruses Are Selected For Use In Flu Vaccine Production Each Year
The flu viruses in seasonal flu vaccines are selected each year based on a variety of data, including the following:
In some years certain influenza viruses may not circulate until later in the influenza season, making it difficult to prepare a candidate vaccine virus in time for vaccine production. This can make vaccine virus selection very challenging.
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Can I Get The Bivalent Booster At The Same Time As My Flu Vaccine
Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective when given with other vaccines. There is no specific time interval that is recommended between routine vaccinations and the COVID-19 vaccine. The most important thing is that you take both vaccines. Whether it is on the same day or different days, that is your choice.
If vaccinated on the same day, it is recommended that the shots are given in different arms.
How Effective Are The Bivalent Omicron Boosters
Its widely believed in the science and medical communities that these bivalent boosters will work better in preventing Omicron BA.4/5 infections, while keeping the strong protection against severe disease from all COVID-19 strains. Omicron subvariants are predicted to continue to circulate in coming months, and improving protection against this variant is of vital importance.
To evaluate the overall effectiveness of bivalent booster vaccines, a clinical study used a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that targeted both the original strain of COVID-19 as well as a different Omicron subvariant called BA.1. The data from that study were evaluated by the FDA and led to the Emergency Use Authorization for the new bivalent booster.
In the study, researchers found that people who received the BA.1 bivalent booster had a better immune response against COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.1 compared with those who received the original booster. The Moderna part of the study evaluated 600 adults age 18 years and older, while the Pfizer-BioNTech part of the study looked at 600 people age 55 and older. Findings from the two studies were similar.
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