It’s that time of year again: Holidays & Flu Season! In anticipation of the latter, I visited the CDC website & found some information I’d like to share. Some new information & some reminders follow.
A few things are new this season:
- The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or “LAIV”) is again a recommended option for influenza vaccination of persons for whom it is otherwise appropriate, but there are many for whom it is not! Allergies eggs or to the vaccine itself are of course contraindications. Also: Women who are pregnant, people with immune disease or those who have recently been on antiviral therapy, kids under age 2 & some kids with asthma, or adults over age 49 years, or have certain medical, you should avoid the nasal spray.
- Cell-grown & recombinant flu vaccines will all be quadrivalent EXCEPT the high-potency flu vaccine, which is only trivalent, recommended only for patients age 65 years or older, & contains higher levels of antigen to help the older, more anergic immune system make antibodies.
- No intradermal flu vaccine will be available.
- The age recommendation for “Fluarix Quadrivalent” was changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older.
- The age recommendation for Afluria Quadrivalent was changed from 18 years old and older to 5 years old and older.
- A New Antiviral Drug is available. Baloxavir marboxil (trade name Xofluza®) is a new influenza single-dose antiviral drug approved October 24, 2018 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Baloxavir marboxil is approved for the treatment of acute uncomplicated flu in people 12 years old and older who have had flu symptoms for less than 48 hours.
The 2018-2019, trivalent (three-component) high potency vaccine recommended for patients age 65 & older contain:
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus (updated)
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus (updated)
All other flu vaccines are Quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines contain
- the three recommended viruses above, plus B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus
When should we get vaccinated?
Healthcare workers & patients should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, 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. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.
Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
Just because you don’t get the flu doesn’t mean you don’t carry the flu! Many nurses have mighty powerful immune systems resulting from years of exposures. Even if your immune system makes antibody to fight off the flu, you can still shed virus. So, I suggest you get a flu shot, too!
For more information, visit