The flu might be the last thing you want to think about during the summer. However, with summer winding down and flu season approaching, it may be time to start thinking about protection. An estimated 70-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people ages sixty-five and older (Centers for Disease Control, 2023). LECOM Health is pleased to provide the resources necessary to keep you and your loved ones healthy this flu season.
Do you need a flu shot every year?
Getting the annual flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu. According to Dr. James Lin, president of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging, “Since flu viruses are constantly changing, last year’s vaccine might not protect you from this year’s viruses.” Also, protection from vaccines decreases over time. To maintain the highest level of protection, you should get vaccinated annually.
Research determines which viruses are indicated to be the most common during the upcoming flu season. Vaccines are then updated to match. Vaccine effectiveness is partially dependent on how accurate the match is between the viruses in the vaccine and the viruses circulating during flu season. This year, flu vaccines contain an influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 component:
- A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus for egg-based vaccines and
- A/Wisconsin/67/2022 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus for cell-based or recombinant vaccines (Centers for Disease Control, 2023).
Different Types of Flu vaccines
With so many vaccines containing different ingredients, it can be difficult to determine the best one for you. Quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against four different viruses; two protect against influenza A, and two against influenza B. In the United States, all vaccines are quadrivalent. High-dose flu vaccines are recommended for older adults and contain four times the amount of antigen as regular flu shots, which helps to create a stronger immune response.
It is especially important to be knowledgeable about vaccine ingredients if you or a loved one has an egg allergy. Most vaccines are produced using egg-based manufacturing techniques. In fact, the recombinant and cell-based vaccines are the only current egg-free vaccines. Recombinant vaccines, like Flublok Quadrivalent, also contain three times the antigens than standard flu vaccines. Cell-based vaccines are completely egg free and approved for people six months and older.
Nasal spray vaccines are approved for people ages two to forty-nine and are made using weakened live flu viruses. They are not recommended for adults sixty-five and older, pregnant people, the immunocompromised, or people with certain medical conditions.
Who should get Vaccinated?
Everyone six months and older should get a yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccines LECOM Health will carry this season are Flublok, Fluzone, and Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent. Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is the preferred vaccine for older adults this flu season.
When should you get vaccinated?
September and October are the best months to get vaccinated. Preferably, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. Since immune protection decreases over time, you should avoid getting your flu shot too early, especially if you are over sixty-five, or pregnant and in your first or second trimester. If you are pregnant and in your third trimester, you can get vaccinated early to protect your baby after birth.
Join LECOM Health at the Zem Zem Shrine Club of Erie on September 1st, 2023, for our flu vaccine clinic. The clinic will be held from 9 AM – 3 PM. No appointment necessary. Vaccines will be available for ages 9 and up. Vaccine costs are covered under most insurances.
Flu vaccines will be available at LECOM Health primary care offices and Colonial Family Pharmacies, in addition to at the Vaccine, Testing, and Treatment Center in the LECOM Center for Health and Aging. You can find a primary care provider at https://lecomhealth.com/ . At the Vaccine, Testing, and Treatment Center, located at 3910 Schaper Avenue, vaccines will be available for ages 6 months and up. For more information, call (814) 488-3939.