The Seasonal Flu Vaccine
A seasonal vaccine is distributed routinely every year.
While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.
The flu vaccine will protect against an influenza A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
Vaccine experts voted that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the influenza season. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for "universal" flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
People 50 years of age and older
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
About the Vaccine
For decades, vaccines have been produced in chicken eggs. This process is time-consuming and for some flu seasons has resulted in flu vaccine shortages early in the flu season. Cell-based vaccine production takes less time, and has the added benefit of allowing persons who are allergic to eggs to receive the vaccine.
When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as "community immunity."
Fluzone High-Dose Vaccine
Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is a flu shot, made up of the 3 flu strains most likely to cause illness for a particular flu season. Fluzone High-Dose vaccines contain 4 times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in the person getting the vaccine.
Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which places older people at greater risk of severe illness from influenza. Also, ageing decreases the body’s ability to have a good immune response after getting influenza vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is supposed to give older people a better immune response and therefore better protection against flu.
Fluzone High-Dose is approved for use in people 65 years of age and older. As with all flu vaccines, Fluzone High-Dose is not recommended for people with a severe allergy to chicken eggs, or people who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
What else can I do?
As with any influenza virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce spread:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.
Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.
Kansas Department of Health