- On average 24,000 Americans die from the flu and related complications each year.
- A new quadrivalent flu vaccine is available to protect against four influenza strains.
- Everyone aged 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu each year.
- Regardless of the flu vaccine option you choose this flu season, getting vaccinated is the most important preventative measure.
Flu season is here, and now is the best time to get your flu vaccine to ensure that you, your family, and your coworkers are protected. Flu is a common, seasonal illness that has devastating impact every year. Shockingly, an average of 24,000 Americans die from the flu and related complications each year. In an effort to provide a little extra protection, vaccine manufacturers have introduced a new flu vaccine this year, called the quadrivalent vaccine, that protects against the four flu strains experts expect to be the most common and serious this season.
About the Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine
The quadrivalent flu vaccine is unlike the traditional flu vaccine in that instead of protecting adults and children against three circulating strains of the flu virus, it protects against four. This may be especially important for children because children are highly susceptible to the fourth virus strain that only the quadrivalent vaccine contains. For the past approximately 30 years, the flu vaccine has included protection against two circulating strains of Type A influenza virus and one strain of Type B influenza virus. However, the quadrivalent vaccine includes the two Type A strains plus two Type B strains for additional protection against illness. During the 2013 – 2014 influenza season, the quadrivalent vaccine will be sold under the brand names of Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent and FluLaval Quadrivalent.
Who Should Get Vaccinated Against the Flu?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges that everyone aged 6 months and older be vaccinated against the flu each year. Vaccination is especially important for pregnant women; people over the age of 65; people with diabetes, chronic lung diseases and asthma; and household contacts and caregivers of any of those at-risk groups. The human body takes about two weeks to develop full immunity after receiving the flu shot, so earlier is better when it comes to vaccination. Children may receive the most benefit from the quadrivalent vaccine, since the Type B strain tends to strike this age group more than middle aged people. However, it is important to note that the CDC does not recommend one type of vaccine over the other, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that the most important preventative measure to take is getting vaccinated, regardless of the type of flu vaccine received.
Other Flu Vaccines Available This Season
The 2013-2014 flu season will see an unprecedented number of vaccine options available. There is an egg-free shot, for individuals who are allergic to eggs, and there has been growing interest in the High Dose flu shot, made especially for people age 65 and older. Additionally, options are available for the needle-phobic crowd since the flu vaccine can be delivered via a tiny pin-prick and as a nasal mist. However, don’t let all of these options cause confusion; the best means to protect your health this flu season is to receive the flu vaccine, regardless of the specific form! Visit your local Passport Health clinic to get vaccinated!