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Let’s Talk Flu Vaccines

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Some areas of the country continue to experience 100+ degrees which makes it hard to believe it’s time to talk about flu! Not the actual virus (just yet) but flu vaccines!  Flu vaccines are being shipped and should be in your doctor’s office at any time. We received ours last week and have already started giving vaccines to patients.

As in previous years, all people aged six months and older need to be vaccinated.

This year’s vaccine contains three strains of influenza virus and they are identical to last year’s vaccine strains. Even though the vaccines are identical, it does not mean that you can skip the flu vaccine this year.  Sorry! Because the protection from the flu wanes over the year, it is necessary to get re-vaccinated every year. Why? You just don’t know how much antibody you have left!

For children who are six months to age eight years of age, AND who have NEVER been vaccinated, the recommendation continues to be that they should receive two doses of vaccine which are given at least four weeks apart.

If your child received at least one dose of flu vaccine in 2010-2011, they will only need one dose of the 2011-2012 vaccine.

The recommendation for pregnant women to be vaccinated also continues. There has been some good recent data that babies who were born to mothers who had received flu vaccine had a 45-48% LESS chance of being hospitalized with the flu than babies born to unvaccinated mothers. So, the take home message is that your baby, even in utero, is getting antibody protection from the mother. We have known this about other diseases and now there is evidence of influenza protection too.

Time to think/pray/chant for cooler weather, which means that “flu viruses” will be happy to return from vacation….start getting your vaccine now!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

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