Fall is Flu Shot Season, What You Need to Know

Fall is Flu Shot Season, What You Need to Know

SignatureMD concierge doctors are ready and waiting for the upcoming fall and winter influenza season. One of the best ways to prevent flu is by vaccination and this year there are new flu vaccines available.

Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses (trivalent) that research indicates will be the most common during the upcoming season. The traditional “flu shot” — is an inactivated vaccine containing killed virus that is administered with a needle, usually in the arm.

The traditional flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

Now, there are THREE different flu shots available:

  • The regular flu shot approved for people aged 6 months and older.
  • The high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 years and older.
  • The intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 to 64 years of age.

The nasal-spray flu vaccine is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is administered as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”).

The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people, 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

The viruses in the vaccine can change each year based on international surveillance and estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.

Some manufacturers are planning to produce a quadrivalent (four component) vaccine in the future, yet quadrivalent vaccines are NOT expected to be available for the 2012-2013 season.

About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses develop in the body. Information specific to the 2012-2013 season including the flu vaccine formulation, can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm

SignatureMD urges patients  to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated — if not for their own sake, then for the health of their communities.

Additional things you can do:

  • Sleep and rest- Try and get at least 7-8 hours a night.
  • Diet- Avoid junk food and eat your colors- vegetables of every hue. Avoid sugars and refined processed foods.
  • Exercise- Be active and it will improve your mood too. Happier, active people are less sick.

Around 85 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed, part of a total of 135 million doses for 2012 so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says that we experienced a “mild” flu season last year — brought about partly because the flu strains in circulation were similar to those the year before. The CDC recommends flu vaccines for everyone over the age of 6 months.

Yet most Americans choose to skip the flu shot. Forty-two percent of Americans got a flu shot last year, about the same rate as the year before, according to the CDC.

Flu shots are safe at any stage of pregnancy and are especially important for expectant mothers and their babies.

The CDC says 5% to 20% of Americans get the flu, causing up to 200,000 hospitalizations annually. Though flu shots aren’t perfect, they help reduce the risk of becoming sick by 50% to 60% – which is the edge you want in a full scale pandemic.