It’s Time to Get a Flu Shot!

Inactivated influenza and recombinant influenza vaccines, but not nasal spray flu vaccine, endorsed for 2018 flu season

crowd of people in street with bubbles representing flu germs

As the 2018 influenza season spreads across the USA, there are many people who haven’t yet been vaccinated.

Flu activity in the USA has increased significantly in recent weeks with the influenza A (H3N2) viruses dominating this season.

During early 2018, 5.8 percent of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness.

This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent.

Some people fear the flu shot because they believe it will make them sick.

The flu shot can’t and it won’t make you sick, experts say.

It’s biologically impossible to catch the flu from being vaccinated, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is because the influenza vaccine is produced from killed virus.

Also, there are only a few proteins from the dead virus contained in the vaccine. Those proteins, taken from the killed virus, enable human immune systems to fight off the virus.

But, people can catch a common cold.

People often have mistaken the cold and influenza symptoms. The CDC says just because two events can occur at the same time, it doesn’t mean they are the same issue.

If you haven’t gotten the flu shot already, you should get a flu vaccine now, says the CDC.

Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

Recommended:

Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart. There are flu vaccines approved for use in infants as young as 6 months of age.

Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different 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 status, and any relevant allergies.

Flu shots are approved for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions.

CDC recommends use of the inactivated influenza vaccine and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The nasal spray flu vaccine is not endorsed during 2017-2018.

But, if you do catch the flu in 2018, the CDC suggests treatment with antiviral medications.

  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.
  • Neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications are most effective in treating influenza and reducing complications when treatment is started early, says the CDC.

The CDC recommends these antivirals for use during the 2018 influenza season:

  • Tamiflu
  • Relenza
  • Rapivab

Ideally, treatment should be initiated within 48 hours of flu symptom onset.

Most pharmacies in the USA offer FDA approved flu vaccines.

The flu shot cost varies depending on your insurance and which state you live. The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information.

Flu vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.