What’s new with the flu shot?

Must you get the influenza (flu) vaccine this yr? The quick, fast reply (barring any medical causes you shouldn’t, resembling extreme allergy symptoms), is sure! However latest analysis raises one other necessary query: When do you have to get the shot?

Why a flu shot yearly within the first place?

Getting contaminated with the flu could be harmful — we’ve seen sufferers within the ICU who had been beforehand wholesome however had a horrible response to a pressure of the virus and have become very sick.

Yearly the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) and different companies launch flu vaccination pointers in late summer season to early fall. The flu vaccines are often accessible by the tip of the summer season season. Determining precisely which strains of flu viruses the vaccine ought to defend in opposition to is commonly sophisticated. Principally, consultants have a look at the influenza virus strains that had been making bother in earlier years, and try to predict which strains are prone to trigger the flu within the upcoming season.

The inactivated flu vaccine is the type of flu vaccine that’s mostly injected and accommodates components of the virus however no dwell virus. Subsequently, you shouldn’t be contaminated with the flu from the vaccine itself. Some folks could really feel “sick” after the vaccine with signs resembling delicate fever, ache within the injection website, fatigue — all of which can simply be your physique mounting an anticipated immune response in opposition to the overseas virus particles. For the 2017-18 season, the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have advisable in opposition to the choice intranasal dwell attenuated vaccine, as a result of considerations about its ineffectiveness throughout the earlier seasons.

Get your flu shot as quickly as doable? Perhaps not…

Latest research have urged that the flu vaccines will not be as efficient when given too early. The US Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Community compiled knowledge on sufferers in search of care at outpatient clinics throughout the 4 earlier flu seasons from 2011-12 to 2014-15. Though the info diverse for various influenza strains, it did present that the vaccine was handiest at roughly two weeks after it was given. Safety in opposition to the flu then decreases each month. There could possibly be many explanations for this: folks could lose immunity throughout the season; totally different affected person populations obtain vaccines at totally different instances; the virus could mutate throughout the course of the flu season, and many others. This lower in safety over time could even account for why some individuals who did get a flu shot go on to get the flu afterward within the season (February or March). Nonetheless, extra analysis must be performed to guage this additional.

It will get even trickier

The issue is that we can not predict precisely when the flu season will start every year. In clinics and within the emergency division, we regularly see the flu season beginning round December and lasting till the spring. And the flu shot shouldn’t be 100% efficient. Over the previous few seasons, research have proven that the vaccine lowered the chance of flu an infection by 40% to 60%. For sufferers who’re immunocompromised or have continual medical situations, it might nonetheless make sense to obtain the vaccine earlier in order that your physique is protected in opposition to the virus every time the season comes. However for those who’re typically wholesome, it might make sense to get the vaccine just a little later within the fall.

However, as physicians, we actually aren’t positive but.

So, what do you have to do?

We want extra analysis to find out the optimum timing of influenza immunization. Till we have now extra info, I nonetheless suggest getting the flu vaccine every year earlier than the flu season begins, particularly you probably have different well being issues, have a weakened immune system, or in case your youngster is younger sufficient to require two doses. Even in case you are uncovered to the flu virus later within the season and your immunity shouldn’t be as sturdy in opposition to it, your physique should still be capable of combat off the virus faster and extra successfully than for those who didn’t obtain the vaccine in any respect. For individuals who are more healthy and have entry to main care physicians, you possibly can think about holding off till later within the fall; nonetheless, you might threat getting the flu if the season comes early.

Sources

Intraseason waning of influenza vaccine safety: Proof from the US Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Community, 2011-12 by means of 2014-15. Scientific Infectious Ailments, March 2017.

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness, 2005–2017. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

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