At this point, scientists say they can’t predict the severity of the coming flu season. But if you are planning to get the flu shot, September is not too early, say doctors. Outbreaks can start as early as October and your immune needs time to ramp up after getting the vaccine.
Here are four things you should know about this year’s flu shot:
1. A new vaccine protects against more viruses. A vaccine introduced last year called the quadrivalent protects against four flu viruses instead of three like the standard flu shot, which is called a trivalent. The standard vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and one influenza B virus, the three most common strains from the last season. The additional protection comes from an extra influenza B virus. The quadrivalent shot may cost you around $40 since it's not covered by all insurers.
2. Beware of the high-dose vaccine. The high-dose version of the vaccine may not be right for you. The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine has four times the flu antigen of the standard vaccine. Some doctors recommend it for those 65 and older because regular flu vaccines are known to be much less effective at protecting seniors than younger people. But according to the New England Journal of Medicine, it's only slightly more effective, and side effects are much more likely.
3. Obesity can make the flu shot less effective. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that obese people had a weakened response to flu vaccinations. "These results suggest that overweight and obese people would be more likely than healthy weight people to experience flu illness following exposure to the flu virus," said Melinda Beck, professor and associate chair of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and senior author of the study. Heather Paich, a doctoral student in Beck's lab, added: "The findings also suggest overweight and obese people are more likely to become sicker and have more complications."
4. Give the kids nasal spray instead of shots. The CDC says that young children are most likely to get flu, and those younger than five years are at high risk of getting serious, sometimes deadly, complications. A study showed that the nasal spray vaccine (LSIV) protects healthy younger children better than a shot. The CDC says that children between the ages of six months and eight years may need two doses instead of one.
According to the latest CDC statistics, they flu shot is effective up to 80 percent of the time in younger adults, and about 50 percent of the time in those 65 years and older.
However, protection can vary widely. Older people and those with compromised immune systems may not produce as many antibodies after vaccination, and the levels they do produce may drop more quickly than in younger, healthy people.
People who do get the flu despite vaccination will usually have a milder case.
© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.