NY Travel Clinic

Protect yourself with the flu vaccine

It’s almost flu season and to protect yourself and your loved ones form the flu, the CDC recommends “everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible.” The flu is not just a bad cold, it’s a viral infection that can lead to serious health complications.  It’s important to prevent it by vaccination.  Flu activity commonly peaks in the United States between December and March. Flu season runs from October to May.

Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, missed work and school due to flu, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

This year’s overall influenza vaccine effectiveness is nearly 60% according to the CDC.  Vaccine effectiveness is 76% against all influenza B viruses, and 79% against the B/Yamagata lineage of B viruses.

Adults need one dose of the vaccine, and some children 6 months through 8 years of age will need two doses for adequate protection.

This year the CDC recommends that children receive the flu shot, and not the nasal spray vaccine, because in the 2015-16 flu season the nasal flu vaccine’s protection rate was only 3%.  However, a recent Canadian study shows that both are effective.  Dr. Mark Loeb, lead author of the study, said his study has a “better design” than recent U.S. studies that found the nasal spray vaccine not as effective.  Speak with your doctor to determine the best vaccine.  What’s important is that your child be vaccinated.

The CDC states has issued new recommendations for people with egg allergies, and states:

“People who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg 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, such as angioedema, respiratory distress, light-headedness, or recurrent emesis; or who have needed epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, 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). People with egg allergies no longer have to wait 30 minutes after receiving their vaccine.”

The CDC recommends that people who are at high risk for serious flu complications who get flu symptoms should be treated with influenza antiviral drugs as quickly as possible.

Besides getting the flu vaccine, you can protect yourself from the flu by washing your hands, avoiding people who are sick, and sneezing and coughing into your arm.  You need to be sure you have enough vitamin D, and should get tested to determine if you have sufficient levels. Complications from the flu can be lethal, so protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated.