Summer of 2016 is coming to an end. Children have returned to school, daylight is getting shorter and soon farmers will be harvesting. These are all signs of when you need to make plans to get vaccinated against influenza.
Who needs a flu shot? Everyone 6 months of age and older. This recommendation has been in place since Feb. 24, 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP). They voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people. The 2016-2017 influenza season’s inactivated influenza vaccine virus strains will include an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (Victoria lineage), and Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (Yamagata lineage) strain.
Why get vaccinated? It is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. Healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
Where can people get vaccinated? Flu shots will be available at The Madison County/London City Health District starting Sept. 29 from 9 to 11 a.m. The following week we will then travel to Mount Sterling, Plain City, London and West Jefferson.
For best results, you need to have your flu shot before mid-November. It takes your body two weeks for antibodies to develop to provide you with protection against the influenza virus. It is best to get your flu shot before flu season. Seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, but usually peak in January or later and can linger until May. Flu shots will be offered throughout the flu season, even after January, but it will be most beneficial for you to get it now. The holidays filled with gatherings of friends and family are just around the corner: Spread cheer, not germs.
Does the flu shot give you the flu? No! Absolutely not! A flu vaccination cannot cause flu illness. The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Side effects that you may encounter: soreness/redness at the site of the injection, fever (low grade) and aches. If any of these occur, they will be short-lived and can be treated with over-the counter ibuprofen type product, warm and moist heat at the site.
What about the nasal spray? The ACIP does not recommend the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4): the nasal spray vaccine. Since the 2013 influenza season, studies in the United States show low effectiveness against A(H1N1)pdm09 therefore it is not recommended to be used for the 2016-2017 season.
Remember, if you are 65 years young, you will receive the high-dose flu vaccine. The more experienced with life have decreased response to vaccines, so that is why the high-dose flu was developed. Please check with your physician if you require a pneumonia shot as well. If you are 65 and have not received a pneumonia shot, you will receive a Prevnar 13 (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) now and then in 6-12 months you will need a Pneumovax23. Pneumovax23 is the usual pneumonia shot that is 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Only one Pneumovax 23 and one Prevnar 13 are recommended at age 65. There is no evidence to support receiving additional doses after 65; there is evidence of increasing your risk for cellulitis in your arms from receiving more vaccines than recommended.
Remember, it takes two weeks to obtain protection. You will want to get your flu shot before the holiday season begins. The best gift you can give your family is good health. Please come to the Madison County/London City Health District, 306 Lafayette St., Suite B, London, for your influenza immunizations. For questions call the nursing department at 740-852-3065.
Susan Young is the director or nursing at the Madison County/London City Health District. She can be reached at 740-852-3065, ext. 1526.