New changes to flu shot recommendations

 

With autumn comes flu season, and there are two main recommendations from the CDC this year:

– Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use this season.

– The recommendations for vaccination of people with egg allergies have changed.

Injectable flu shots only

This season, only injectable flu shots should be used. The nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for use during the 2016-2017 season because of concerns about its effectiveness.

Egg allergies and the flu shot

People who have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs can get any licensed flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health.

People who have symptoms other than hives after exposure to eggs also can get any licensed flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health, but the vaccine should be given in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions. Settings include hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices.

Timing

Getting vaccinated before flu activity begins helps protect you once the flu season starts locally. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully respond and for you to be protected.

In the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and November. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and March and can last as late as May.

Who should get the flu shot?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later is okay. Vaccination should continue throughout the flu season, even in January or later. Some children who have received flu vaccine previously and children who have only received one dose in their lifetime, may need two doses of flu vaccine. A health care provider can advise on how many doses a child should get.

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

Additional protection

In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from people who are sick and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness.