Did you know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot by the end of October? If you have Marketplace health insurance, your flu shot is free from a provider in your plan's network.
3 reasons to get the flu shot
- It helps keep your family and friends healthy: In addition to keeping you healthy, getting vaccinated yourself helps protect people around you, especially those who are more prone to getting sick, like babies, children, and older people.
- It's a small step to better health and well-being: By protecting yourself from the flu, you may have fewer doctor's visits and miss less work or school.
- Nobody likes being sick: The flu shot can help protect against unpleasant side effects of the flu, including fever, chills, and fatigue.
What flu vaccines are recommended this season?
This season, only injectable flu vaccines (flu shots) are recommended. Some flu shots protect against three flu viruses and some protect against four flu viruses.
Options this season include:
Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use during the 2017-2018 season because of concerns about its effectiveness.
There is a table showing all the flu vaccines that are FDA-approved for use in the United States during the 2017-2018 season.
What viruses will the 2017-2018 flu vaccines protect against?
There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on vaccine) that research suggests will be most common. For 2017-2018, three-component vaccines are recommended to contain:
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
- an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
- a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
Quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines, which protect against a second lineage of B viruses, are recommended to be produced using the same viruses recommended for the trivalent vaccines, as well as a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.
When should I get vaccinated?
You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, 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, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the 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.
What should I do to protect myself from flu this season?
In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness. Visit What you Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs for more information.
What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?
Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing flu complications(http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm), and their close contacts. Also, if you have a loved one who is at high risk of flu complications and they develop flu symptoms, encourage them to get a medical evaluation for possible treatment with flu antiviral drugs. These drugs work best if given within 48 hours of when symptoms start. CDC recommends that people who are at high risk for serious flu complications and who get flu symptoms during flu season be treated with flu antiviral drugs as quickly as possible. People who are not at high risk for serious flu complications may also be treated with flu antiviral drugs, especially if treatment can begin within 48 hours.
Do some children require two doses of flu vaccine?
Yes. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age will require two doses of flu vaccine for adequate protection from flu. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of flu vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart. Children who have only received one dose in their lifetime also need two doses. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you if your child needs two doses of flu vaccine. Visit Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine for more information.
What can I do to protect children who are too young to get vaccinated?
Children younger than 6 months old are at high risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months old, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu. See Advice for Caregivers of Young Children for more information. Everyone else who is around the baby also should be vaccinated. Also, studies have shown that flu vaccination of the mother during pregnancy can protect the baby after birth from flu infection for several months.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you and your loved ones can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.
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