Flu Shot Talk

The most commonly used vaccine, often called the “flu shot,” is a killed virus vaccine that can be given to individuals ranging from 6 months to senior citizens. This inactivated vaccine can be used by everyone except individuals who have had an allergic reaction to eggs.

Last year they chose strains for the shot which ended up not helping many people fight the virus. This meant a lot of people who got the shot also ended up getting the flu; not good.

Another vaccine is a live attenuated influenza virus vaccine that is administered by droplets given into the nose (FluMist). Attenuation means that the virus has been weakened so that it does not cause illness in normal healthy people.

FluMist is approved for individuals ranging from 2 years to 65. Administration does not require any injections, a clear advantage for those who particularly dislike needles. Studies comparing the efficacy of the two types of vaccine suggest that the live attenuated vaccine may provide a slight advantage in generating an effective immune response. However, as a live virus, this vaccine has some theoretical risk for patients with defective immunity and it is the general recommendation that patients with primary immunodeficiency do not use this form of influenza vaccine. Which means that my son would not be able to get this form of the vaccine, as he has an IgA deficiency.

What can people do if they don’t want to deal with the vaccine? Well, first of all you should still strongly consider getting the vaccine because it can be extremely helpful. But if you would rather not than there are still other options.

There are now anti-viral drugs which can lower the severity of influenza in exposed individuals if given early enough following exposure. Tamiflu should be considered by anyone who has had a close exposure to someone with influenza. Some experts recommend taking this drug for a few weeks during the peak of the local influenza season.

Last but not least, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for all women who will be pregnant during influenza season. In North America, peak flu season is usually November to March.

And therefore when Brae gets his shot I’ll be scheduling myself for one. =o)


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