It’s the beginning of flu season, and in order to avoid a high fever, severe aches and a nasty cough, a flu shot could help patients lessen their symptoms or avoid them all together. Since the flu virus is always evolving, scientists are making important changes to how the vaccine is made.
Major Changes to the Flu Shot in 2016
With continued research and data from previous flu seasons, scientists have made some important steps forward.
Only Injectable Shots are Recommended
Over the past several flu seasons, the nasal spray vaccinations did not offer sufficient protection against the main strains of the influenza virus. Because of this, it is recommended that only shots are administered.
Vaccines are Updated to Better Fight Circulating Viruses
Researchers have identified three of the most potentially prevalent forms of the flu virus for late 2016 and early 2017. Most vaccines will offer protection against:
- (H1N1) – A/California/7/2009 virus
- (H3N2) – A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 virus
- (B/ Victoria Lineage) – B/Brisbane/60/2008 virus
Different Recommendations for Those With Egg Allergies
For anyone with egg allergies, recommendations for administering the flu shot depends on symptoms suffered from the allergy. If only hives are experienced after exposure to egg, that person can receive the flu vaccine.
For anyone whose egg allergy causes angioedema (swelling of deep skin tissue,) difficulty breathing, or emergency intervention of any kind, a shot must be administered in a medical setting with a professional who is trained to recognize signs of allergic reaction and distress.
Who Needs a Flu Shot?
Everyone over six months old should get the a flu shot. But, it is especially important for certain groups to get the shot:
- Pregnant Women. Pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu because of changes to their immune system. Since serious illness can lead to hospitalization or even premature labor, it is important to get a flu shot. Both mom and baby receive the benefits of the vaccine. They are both protected even after delivery.
- Young Children. Even in healthy children, the unpredictable nature of the flu virus can cause serious illness. Approximately 77 children died from the flu last year, so it is recommended that children six months and older receive the vaccine. It should also be noted that children who are under five years old are especially susceptible.
- Older Adults. For those who are 65 or older, the immune system naturally weakens with age. This leaves seniors vulnerable to the effects of the flu virus. In fact, it is estimated that 71 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths occur in seniors.
In addition, anyone with the following conditions should receive a flu shot:
- Cystic Fibrosis
If you have any questions regarding the flu or flu shot, or if you would like to make an appointment, call Grand Rapids OBGYN at (616) 247-1700.