It's Flu Season, What You Need to Know

New Flu Information for 2017-2018

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. In 2017, a study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications. This page summarizes information for the 2017-2018 flu season.

What’s new this flu season?

A few things are new this season:

  • The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.

  • Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).

  • Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.

  • Two new quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines have been licensed: one inactivated influenza vaccine (“Afluria Quadrivalent” IIV) and one recombinant influenza vaccine (“Flublok Qudrivalent” RIV).

  • The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.

  • The trivalent formulation of Afluria is recommended for people 5 years and older (from 9 years and older) in order to match the Food and Drug Administration package insert.

A candidate vaccine virus (CVV) is an influenza (flu) virus that has been prepared by CDC or its public health partners for use by vaccine manufacturers to mass produce a flu vaccine. During the 2017-2018 season, for the first time, a true cell-based CVV has been approved for use in flu vaccine production for the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally, CVVs have been produced using fertilized chicken eggs. The cell-based CVV has been used to produce the influenza A (H3N2) component of cell-based flu vaccines for the Northern Hemisphere in 2017-2018. Recombinant flu vaccines also are based on genetic sequences of recommended vaccine viruses that have not been propagated in eggs. Cell-based flu vaccines that use cell-based CVVs or genetic sequences have the potential to offer better protection than traditional, egg-based flu vaccines as a result of being more similar to flu viruses in circulation. For more information, see CDC’s Cell-Based Flu Vaccines webpage.

What flu vaccines are recommended this season?

This season, only injectable flu vaccines (flu shots) are recommended. Some flu shots protect against three flu viruses and some protect against four flu viruses.

Options this season include:

  • Standard dose flu shots. Most are given into the muscle (usually with a needle, but one can be given to some people with a jet injector). One is given into the skin.

  • High-dose shots for older people.

  • Shots made with adjuvant for older people.

  • Shots made with virus grown in cell culture.

  • Shots made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of flu virus.

Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use during the 2017-2018 season because of concerns about its effectiveness.

There is a table showing all the flu vaccines that are FDA-approved for use in the United States during the 2017-2018 season.

When should I get vaccinated?

You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

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