We now have a quadrivalent flu vaccine available in our office. This vaccine covers two influenza A types and two influenza B types. The strains are influenza A/Nebraska, influenza A/Delaware, influenza B/Darwin and influenza B/Delaware. The influenza A/Nebraska is an H1/N1 like virus. The influenza A/Delaware is an H3/N2 like virus.
Getting the flu vaccine is more important this year because of the possible combination of Covid 19 and Influenza occurring together. Both can be fatal in the elderly. Covid 19 is worse in the elderly but not so severe in children. Flu can have bad effects in children as well as the elderly. So everyone should get vaccinated this year. These are killed viruses so you cannot get an infectious disease from them. If you get sick after you get the flu it is because the vaccine was either ineffective or the disease was not the flu.
Timing of the flu vaccine is important. We do know from previous studies that after 120 days the efficacy of the vaccine is significantly diminished. A multi-season study analysis from Spain showed that people over the age of 65 who are vaccinated later in the season had a lower risk of hospital admission for influenza than those who were vaccinated earlier in the season. (from the CDC’s website). My recommendation to you is to get the vaccine in November. This is because the flu season is usually from December through March. If you get the injection in September and you are exposed to the flu in March the vaccine might not be effective. Of course you can still get it any time especially if you think the likelihood of you getting the vaccine in November is low.
There are several different makers of the flu vaccine. The most common one given is the quadrivalent vaccine that we give in our office. There is also a high potency vaccine for seniors. There is also one with an adjuvant supposedly to make it last longer. The CDC has expressed no preference for anyone vaccine over the other. We will continue to give the more common quadrivalent vaccine until the CDC recommends otherwise. Should you wish to get the high potency vaccine you will need to go to your pharmacy.
An appointment is not required for the flu vaccine. You may simply walk into our office between 8 AM and 4 PM daily except on Thursday when we are open until noon. Pat and Sharon both are able to give the vaccine.
David G. Wilson MD