The flu can be miserable — and downright dangerous. Flu complications can be serious and even deadly, so don’t forget your best defense against this common illness: getting your annual flu shot.
The shot can help keep you from getting the flu and its related complications. Plus, getting vaccinated means you’ll be less likely to pass that nasty virus on to others.
Flu viruses change constantly, and immunity wears off over time. Even if you got the shot last year, you’ll need another one this year.
What kinds of flu vaccines are available?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends use of injectable influenza vaccines during 2017-2018. The nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during 2017-2018 season because of concerns about its effectiveness.
Both trivalent (three-component) and quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines will be available.
Trivalent flu vaccines include:
- Standard-dose trivalent shots (IIV3) that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. Different flu shots are approved for different age groups. Most flu shots are given in the arm (muscle) with a needle. One trivalent vaccine formulation can be given with a jet injector, for people between 18 and 64 years old.
- A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
- A recombinant trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 years and older, including pregnant women.
- A trivalent flu shot made with adjuvant (an ingredient of a vaccine that helps create a stronger immune response in the patient’s body), approved for people 65 years of age and older (new this season).
Quadrivalent flu vaccines include:
- Quadrivalent flu shots approved for use in different age groups, including children as young as 6 months.
- An intradermal quadrivalent flu shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It is approved for people between 18 and 64 years old.
- A quadrivalent flu shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 4 years of age and older.
- A recombinant quadrivalent flu shot approved for people 18 years of age and older, including pregnant women (new this season).
Ask your doctor which is the best choice for you.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
Call your doctor if you have:
- A cough or sore throat.
- A fever.
- Body aches or a headache.
If you do end up with the flu, see your doctor. Antiviral medicines can help you recover more quickly, but they work best if you start them within two days of when your symptoms began.
More Prevention Tips
It’s important to take simple precautions too:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Keep your distance from others who are ill.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often.