Flu Vaccine Recommendations From Vantage Physicians

Dr. Samantha Ritchie, a family practice physician at Vantage Physicians, injects a recommended flu vaccine to her patient.

 

Submitted by Vantage Physicians

Dr. Samantha Ritchie, a family practice physician at Vantage Physicians, injects a recommended flu vaccine to her patient.

Vantage Physicians, The Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone aged six months and older get an annual flu vaccination.

Who should get flu vaccine?

Everyone! Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent flu. Every flu season is different and affects people differently. Even healthy kids and adults can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. The Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone aged six months and older get a flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Certain people are at greater risk and are encouraged to get a flu vaccine, including:

  • Older people.
  • Young kids.
  • Kids and adults of any age with certain chronic health conditions or special health care needs, such as chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, and certain other long-term health conditions.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Household contacts and caregivers of people in any of the above groups.
  • Household contacts and caregivers of babies under six months of age who are too young to get flu vaccine.
  • Health care professionals.

Flu Basics

What is seasonal flu (influenza)?

Influenza (commonly called the flu) infects the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs (respiratory tract). We call the flu that comes every year the “seasonal” or “yearly” flu. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Flu causes thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations in our country each year.

When does flu occur?

Flu occurs in the United States most often in the fall and winter and commonly peaks in February. Flu-like symptoms in summer months are usually due to other viruses.

What is the difference between influenza and the “flu?”

Influenza is commonly called the “flu.” However, not all things called the “flu” are caused by influenza, so how do you know? Influenza infects the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs (respiratory tract), but not the intestines (gastrointestinal or GI tract). So flu is not the same as what many people call the “stomach flu.” The best way to tell if you have influenza is for a health care provider to swab your throat and have a lab confirm the diagnosis.

What does flu cause?

The flu causes mild to severe illness and can lead to serious illness and death. Some people, such as older people, young kids, and people with certain health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), are at high risk for serious flu complications.

What are the symptoms of flu?

People with flu often have high fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue (tiredness), headache, and sometimes nasal congestion. If you or someone you know has these symptoms and they are severe, contact your doctor as soon as possible. The best way to tell if you have flu is for your doctor to swab your throat and have a lab confirm the diagnosis.

Does past infection with flu make a person immune?

No. Because viruses that cause flu change frequently, people who have had the flu or a flu shot in previous years may become infected with a new strain.

How does flu spread?

The flu spreads easily from person-to-person by coughing and sneezing. Influenza viruses change each year and this is why it’s called “seasonal” or “yearly” flu. A new batch of vaccine is made each year based on these viruses. Get vaccinated every year for the best protection against influenza.

Can flu vaccine give you the flu?

No. Flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Some people incorrectly believe that they can get flu from the vaccine. This is not true. The flu shot only contains proteins from the influenza virus, so the virus cannot reproduce itself and cause illness. While the nasal spray vaccine contains live influenza virus, the virus has been weakened in the lab, so it cannot grow in the lungs and cannot cause the flu.  Some people report not feeling “well” after their shot, this is their body building up immunities.  A well-balanced diet with plenty of sleep and water will help with this.

About Flu Vaccine

Does vaccine protect throughout the flu season?

Yes, getting vaccinated now will protect you throughout the flu season. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the flu. Call your doctor, nurse, clinic, or local health department regularly about available vaccine in your community.

How long does it take for the vaccine to protect people from the flu?

Studies show that the flu vaccine creates a strong immune response in most healthy adults eight to ten days after a single dose.

How do I find a flu vaccine?

  1. Vantage Physicians is giving shots to children ages 6 months to 18 years, adults who are uninsured/underinsured (their insurance will not pay for their vaccinations) and frail patients who are not able to get out to the local pharmacy shot clinics.
  2. Local pharmacy shot clinics.
  3. Check the Flu Shot Locator.
  4. Contact your local health department.

How many types of flu vaccine are there?

You can choose from two types of flu vaccine. If you are not sure which is best for you or your family, ask your doctor. With either vaccine, kids under age nine may need two doses in the same flu season if they have not had flu vaccine before or if they have not had two flu shots in one season.

Flu shot (for anyone aged six months and older)

The flu shot, or Trivalent Inactivated Vaccine (TIV), contains inactivated (killed) viruses and may cause some soreness where the shot is given. The flu shot can be given to anyone age six months and older.

Nasal spray (for healthy kids, teens, and non-pregnant adults aged 2 to 49 years)

The nasal spray flu vaccine, or Live, Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), contains live, weakened flu viruses. The spray can cause mild congestion and runny nose. Some may get a low-grade fever or feel achy for one to two days while their immune system responds to the vaccine. It can be given to healthy kids over age 2 and non-pregnant teens and adults under 49 years. Check with your health care provider or local pharmacy about how to get the nasal spray (commonly called FluMist).

Find information on flu vaccine, TIV, and LAIV on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

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