1Why should people get vaccinated against flu?
Influenza (flu) is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but 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 every year. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work 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 protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.
2How do flu vaccines work?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with circulating influenza viruses.
Seasonal flu vaccines are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. All flu vaccines in the United States are “quadrivalent” vaccines, which means they protect against four different flu viruses; an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses.
3What kinds of flu vaccines are available?
CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine during the 2021-2022 influenza season. Available influenza vaccines include including quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccines [IIV4s], recombinant influenza vaccine [RIV4], or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4). No preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine over another.
VNA has two flu vaccinations available:
-FluZone Standard-dose quadrivalent influenza shots that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. These vaccines are approved for people 6 months of age and older.
-A quadrivalent high-dose influenza vaccine Fluzone High-Dose, which contains a higher dose of antigen to help create a stronger immune reseponse, licensed for people 65 years and older.
4How can I get a high-dose FluZone vaccine?
Adults age 65 yrs and up are eligible for a high-dose FluZone vaccinatoin. Call (630) 892-4355 to schedule an appointment in a VNA Health Center clinic or call Home Health to schedule a home visit at (630) 892-4355 x8653.
5Who Should Vaccinate?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season with rare exception. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has made this recommendation since the 2010-2011 influenza season.
Vaccination to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. See https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm for a full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk.
6Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
Different influenza (flu) vaccines are approved for use in people in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/whoshouldvax.htm .
7When should I get vaccinated?
September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. Additional considerations concerning the timing of vaccination for certain groups include:
-Adults, especially those 65 years and older, should generally not get vaccinated early (in July or August) because protection may decrease over time, but early vaccination can be considered for any person who is unable to return at a later time to be vaccinated.
-Children can get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available, even if this is in July or August. Some children need two doses of flu vaccine. For those children it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second dose needs to given at least 4 weeks after the first.
-Early vaccination can also be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy, because this can help protect their infants during the first months of life (when they are too young to be vaccinated).
8Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
A flu vaccine is needed every year for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual flu vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually and vaccines are updated to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.
9Does flu vaccine work right away?
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in your community.
Influenza (flu) vaccine effectiveness (VE) can vary. The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or “match” between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation. During years when the flu vaccine match is good, it is possible to measure substantial benefits from flu vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness and complications. However, the benefits of flu vaccination will still vary, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated (for example, their health and age), what influenza viruses are circulating that season and, potentially, which type of flu vaccine was used.
11Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?
Yes. It’s possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:
-You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (Antibodies that provide protection develop in the body about 2 weeks after vaccination.)
-You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
-Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.
12What protection does a flu vaccine provide if I do get sick with flu?
Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick with flu. However, flu vaccination has been shown in some studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. A 2021 studyexternal icon showed that among adults, flu vaccination was associated with a 26% lower risk of ICU admission and a 31% lower risk of death from flu compared with those who were unvaccinated. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized adults with flu.
13What are the benefits of flu vaccination?
There are many reasons to get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against flu and its potentially serious complications.
Below is a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination.
-Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
-Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
-Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.
-Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic health conditions.
-Flu vaccination helps protect pregnant people during and after pregnancy.
-Flu vaccine can be lifesaving in children.
-Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you.