Flu season in the U.S. is in fall and winter, peaking in December and January, but can last as long as May in some cases. It’s during this time that the flue circulates the fastest, effecting the most people and putting some at great risk of complications and even death.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
There are very little side effects to the flu vaccination and professionals agree that the benefits outweigh the risk in most cases. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated with the annual flu vaccination. Those who are at higher risk for flu complications are people 65 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, women who are pregnant, and children younger than 5 years. Children younger than 2 years old are at greater risk of complications of the flu and flu-related deaths. In order to prevent unnecessary illness, loss of time at work or school, stress to the body, and more, have your family vaccinated against the flu. The only people who should NOT have the flu are those younger than 6 months and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to ingredients in the flu vaccine. People with an egg allergy may still have the flu vaccination but should talk to their doctor about this concern. People who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome should also talk to their doctor before having the flu shot.
The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
Some people prefer a nasal mist flu vaccine instead of a shot. The nasal mist vaccine is effective against influenza and specially formulated each year just like the injection. It is approved for ages 2 through 49 and is unsafe for individuals outside of this age group. Pregnant women and people with severe allergies to ingredients in the nasal mist should not use this vaccine. Other people who should not use this vaccine are children who receive Aspirin or salicylate-containing medications, those with compromised immune systems, children under four who have Asthma, anyone who has taken influenza antiviral drugs within 48 hours, and persons who require a protected environment.
Flu Vaccine Availability
Ideally, there is enough flu vaccine to go around. Clinics, health departments, hospitals, and pharmacies often have standing orders. However, in some cases, flu vaccines may be in short supply for various reasons. In this case, children under four and adults over 50 years of age are prioritized as well as those at high risk. It’s important to maintain scheduled doctor’s visits and to take the flu vaccine when you are healthy in order to avoid illness later. If you have concerns about taking the flu vaccine, discuss it with your doctor right away so that you can take it as soon as the vaccine is made available this fall.
In addition to flu vaccines, older adults should also consider two vaccines recommended by the CDC, two pneumococcal vaccines for adults aged 65 and older. Protect against influenza, pneumonia, and other serious illnesses by discussing vaccines with your doctor.