JODY HOLTON — It’s time to get your flu shot

Published 12:02 am Sunday, September 4, 2022

With the end of summer, flu season is on the horizon.

In fact, during a recent trip to urgent care, I was told they are already seeing flu cases. Actually, flu can happen year round, more is seen in the cooler months. All pharmacies should have their new flu shot dosages in stock. Please, go get one.

I have already checked: if you have had or plan to get the COVID vaccine, this will not interfere with it.

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I cannot stress enough the importance of getting that flu shot. There are many different 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.

The recommendations for the 2022-23 season include two updates compared with the recommended composition of last season’s U.S. flu vaccines. Both the influenza A(H3N2) and the influenza B(Victoria lineage) vaccine virus components were updated.

There are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. Approximately 93 percent of projected vaccine supply produced for the 2022-23 flu season will be thimerosal-free or thimerosal-reduced (i.e., preservative-free).

Vaccine options this season include:

  • Standard-dose flu shots
  • A cell-based flu shot (Flucelvax Quadrivalent) containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 6 months and older. This vaccine is completely egg-free.
  • A recombinant flu shot (Flublok Quadrivalent) which is a completely egg-free flu shot that is made using recombinant technology and is approved for use in people 18 years and older. This shot is made without flu viruses and contains three times the antigen (the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against flu viruses) than other standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines, to help create a stronger immune response.
  • An egg-based live attenuated flu nasal spray vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent) made with attenuated (weakened) live flu viruses, which is approved for use in people 2 years through 49 years. This vaccine is not recommended for use in pregnant people, immunocompromised people, or people with certain medical conditions.

Ask your doctor what will work best for you.

Flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a copayment or coinsurance. But, be sure to check with your insurance company to find out if you must go to a specific facility to receive the vaccine.

We get ours the first week of September each year, at a local pharmacy. 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. Common sense, good self-care, and a flu shot will go a long way towards keeping you healthy.

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.