FLU season 2018-19
Flu season is just around the corner.
Flu affects between 5 and 20 percent of the U.S. population each year. It usually begins in October or November, peaks in January or February and can continue through May. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu every year. It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to build the antibodies.
The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Every season the influenza virus(es) changes, so it is very important to get vaccinated annually.
Traditional vaccines were trivalent vaccines which were made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. Newer, quadrivalent vaccines are vaccines that protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine and an additional B virus.
Two types of influenza vaccine are widely available: inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV) and live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV).
- Standard dose flu shots are given to those under 65 years of age.
- The high-dose flu shot is designed for people over 65 years of age. Our immune system response weakens with age, therefore the regular flu vaccine is not very effective in this age group and a vaccine with 4 times the amount of antigens is able to provide better protection which is extremely important in this age group.
For the 2018-2019 season, the nasal spray flu vaccine (which contains live attenuated influenza virus) is approved for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 years through 49 years of age.
Avoid vaccination if you,
- Have had a bad reaction to a previous influenza vaccination,
- are younger than 6 months,
- have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome or
- currently, have an illness with fever.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
Schedule your appointment for the flu vaccine with your healthcare provider or local pharmacy.
Disclaimer: The information is intended to provide general education for patients and their families. The information provided does not constitute medical or healthcare advice for any individual and is not a substitute for medical and other professional advice and service.
Dr. Mahesh Ochaney is a solo practitioner who has been practicing Internal Medicine since 1991. Dr. Ochaney’s compassionate primary care has been recognized several times over the years, including being named a 2018 Top Doctor by Baltimore Magazine and receiving a State of Maryland Governor’s Citation.