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Published On: Fri, Jan 24th, 2014

The Flu Shot: Help choosing which one to get

They say I should do it…., I know I should do it…,  and If I do it…

Which one do I do? Why every year?

Here’s help:

Flu viruses are smart. They change and mutate each year.  The big term “antigenic drift” means these changes happen slowly over time.  Because of that your immune system doesn’t or can’t recognize it year after year. What does all that mean?  Well that you need an annual flu vaccine to keep up with the changes. Kind of like fashion – It changes every season.  And now they have added a twist.

Usually we are vaccinated with a flu vaccine that contains 3 strains (trivalent) 3 antigens: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. This year a 4th strain (Quadrivalent) has been added it contains these 3 and a second B antigen.  Ok, “What’s an antigen?” It’s a substance that stimulates the production of antibodies. Antibodies protect you they are the good guys.

FluMist® live attenuated intranasal vaccine (LAIV) sprayers Image/CDC

FluMist® live attenuated intranasal vaccine (LAIV) sprayers
Image/CDC

Ok I get it.. I need a new one every year… so WHICH one?

Here’s where it gets tricky—Just like fashion it’s not one size fits all! One does fit most and some only fits one group!

I’ll try to keep it simple. Here we go:

6 months and older–  a standard-dose injection for anyone. Including those with high-risk medical conditions and pregnant women; *Available with or without Preservative and Available in both Trivalent and Quadrivalent

65 years and older –High Dose; this is a special formulation for the older generation. Because immune defenses become weaker with age, that places this generation at greater risk if severe illness. The process of aging decreases the body’s ability to create a good immune response from the normal dose vaccine.  The high dose has more antigen in the vaccine to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu.*Trivalent Preservative free only

• An intradermal injection that is approved for people 18 through 64 years of age and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot; *Trivalent  Preservative free only

Egg free- Flucelvax® A standard-dose, cell-based flu shot for use in people 18 years and older; while not completely egg free it has a very small amount. *Trivalent only  Preservative free only

Egg free – FluBlok® A recombinant, egg-free shot approved for ages 18 and 49 ; *Trivalent only  Preservative free only

A nasal spray  FluMist (or intranasal) vaccine, approved for healthy people ages 2-49 who do not have an underlying medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes, that predisposes them to serious influenza complications. * Quadrivalent only Preservative free only

How do I know if I am getting one with preservatives or without?

Remember this: If it comes from a vial containing more than one dose of vaccine it HAS PRESERVATIVES.

If it is a single dose vial or a Syringe that the manufacture made for 1 dose it is preservative FREE.

What does virtually egg free mean? It means that the cell-based flu vaccine Flucelvax, made by Novartis, uses flu viruses grown in mammalian cells rather than chicken eggs and is thought to contain hardly any traces of egg. However, the vaccine seed strain used to make the vaccine is passaged in eggs, meaning it could contain a minuscule amount of egg albumin.

A cell based vaccine? Sounds like a bad movie—well, FluBlok is produced with an insect virus and recombinant DNA technology. Its only flu virus component is hemagglutinin, which is produced by infecting cultures of insect cells with a baculovirus. Yea- big words, sorry.

Want to figure it out yourself?  Ok, see this list of seasonal vaccines from the CDC. Make sure you know before you go if you are choosy.

Is there still vaccine left?   138-145 million doses of flu vaccine are to be produced this season. As of Jan 3, 2014- about   131.2 million doses have been distributed. There is still vaccine out there to be had.

What are the risks? Public health officials argue that these are minimal. Most often, people might experience redness or soreness at the location of the injection. Very rarely, a person might have a severe allergic reaction to components of the vaccine.  People with egg allergies are advised to get a flu shot that wasn’t made from eggs.

People who have had a moderate to severe illness (fever 101.5 or more) should wait until they have recovered to receive the vaccine. And certain people with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe paralytic illness, should not receive the flu shot.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about the flu shot.

Is it too late to get my vaccine?  It is never too late. It will take about 10 – 14 days for you to be completely protected as an adult. If you have a child (under age 8) and have never had the vaccine please plan ahead. They will have no protection until they receive their 2nd dose 30 days after the first one.

Now I’m sick.   Ok, is it because I am a horrible procrastinator, hard headed or can’t because of medical reasons- now what do I do????  How do I know if it’s the flu or something else? Influenza, commonly referred to as “the flu,” is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can be mild to severe. Adults are contagious up to a day before symptoms start and until about 24 hours after fever stops. Children  7 days before symptoms begin.

The flu is caused by viruses. Usually it comes on very quickly. You could go from feeling great in the morning to horrible in the evening. You might start out with a fever and then develop chills, a sore throat, a runny nose and body aches and extreme fatigue.   It’s important to stay at home, if possible.

In general, people recover in five to seven days, depending on how severe their symptoms are. However, in some cases, symptoms can last two weeks or longer. And in some cases, people with the flu might develop pneumonia and end up in the hospital. If you think you have the flu, you might be able to contact your doctor within 48 hours and be prescribed an anti-viral medication. It’s not a cure, but it can help reduce the intensity of the symptoms and shorten the course of the illness.

Influenza is nothing to sneeze at: Influenza and pneumonia are the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States

Flu season lasts from October through March. Schedule your annual flu shot today.

Passport Health carries a wide range of vaccine types.

Remember if you are traveling it may be their flu season even if it is not ours… Vaccinate for the Southern Hemisphere www.passporthealthtampa.com for more information.

By avoiding the flu, you avoid giving it to friends and family.

Call your Passport Health TOLL free 888-499-7277 or call your healthcare provider today to schedule your flu vaccination and halt the spread of this deadly disease.

Finally test your knowledge: Fact or Fiction

http://www.familiesfightingflu.org/resources/flu-fact-vs-fiction/

 

Guest author:

Duellyn Pandis, RN, BSN, Certificate in Travel Health® is the President & CEO, Passport Health of Tampa Bay

 

Resources:

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2013/06/acip-recommends-flu-vaccine-option-those-egg-allergies

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

http://newsok.com/whats-it-like-to-get-the-flu/article/3909787Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 1, 2013

http://www.immunizeusa.org/en/articles/search.asp

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/811475

 

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