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JODY HOLTON — Have you had your flu shot?

On a recent well check at the doctor, the very first words out of the nurse’s mouth were, “Have you had your flu shot?”

Jody Holton

Remember when there was a flu season? Times have certainly changed. Flu season is now year-round.

I cannot stress enough the importance of getting that flu shot. There are many flu viruses and they are constantly changing.

The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. For the 2020-21 season, the CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.

There are two new vaccines licensed for use during the 2020-2021 flu season.

The first is a quadrivalent high-dose vaccine licensed for use in adults 65 years and older. This vaccine will replace the previously licensed trivalent high-dose vaccine.

The second new vaccine that will be available is a quadrivalent adjuvanted vaccine licensed for use in adults 65 years and older.

This vaccine is similar to the previously licensed trivalent vaccine containing MF59 adjuvant, but it has one additional influenza B component.

Vaccine options this season include:

  • Standard dose flu shots.
  • High-dose shots for people 65 years and older.
  • Shots made with adjuvant for people 65 years and older.
  • Shots made with virus grown in cell culture. No eggs are involved in the production of this vaccine.
  • Shots made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that do not require having a candidate vaccine virus (CVV) sample to produce.
  • Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – A vaccine made with attenuated (weakened) live virus that is given by nasal spray.

Ask your doctor what will work best for you.

The new flu vaccine is already available. We got ours at a local pharmacy on Sept. 3, Medicare pays for this shot.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early, before the current flu season begins.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.

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.

In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs.

If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness.

Get your flu shot early, protect yourself and your loved ones.

Jody Holton writes about health for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at jholton3@gt.rr.com.