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Flu vaccination: when and what vaccinations to do this year

This flu shot season is very important. As mask requirements are lifted, there is likely to be a strong spike in the spread of respiratory viruses. Therefore, the flu vaccination will help protect against the flu. When should you go for vaccinations this year? Lifehacker.

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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when the flu shot matches the circulating strains, the vaccine is 40-60% effective in preventing the flu. It reduces your chances of getting seriously ill with the flu, even if you get sick, just like the COVID-19 vaccines. No vaccination provides perfect protection, but vaccination is better than no vaccination.

The CDC recommends that everyone get a flu shot every year, even babies as young as 6 months old.

What are the options

All flu shots this year are quadrivalent, meaning they force your immune system to recognize four different flu viruses.

Standard flu vaccines are usually given by injection into the arm and are produced by a process that involves growing the virus in chicken eggs.

There are two completely egg-free vaccines: Flublok Quadrivalent and Flucelvax Quadrivalent. For people who are allergic to eggs, any vaccine is usually suitable.

Two vaccines have been developed for people aged 65 years and older. One is high-dose (Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent) and the other is adjuvant (Fluad Quadrivalent). Both are designed to cause a stronger reaction than standard flu vaccines.

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And finally, the nasal spray (FluMist Quadrivalent) is back. It is a "live attenuated" flu vaccine, which means that the viruses it contains can replicate in the nose. They cannot reproduce at higher temperatures in your lungs. The spray is recommended for people aged 2 to 49 who are not pregnant or immunocompromised. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended an injectable instead of a nasal spray in the past, but this year both versions are included in their recommendations.

When to get vaccinated

The start time for the flu season changes every year, but Halloween is considered the unofficial deadline for a full flu shot. This means that September and October are the best times to get vaccinated.

If you were vaccinated in July or August, that's fine, but protection tends to wane as the season progresses. In the future, it is recommended to get vaccinated closer to the start of the flu season.

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Children aged 6 months to 8 years should receive two doses of influenza vaccine if they are getting their first dose or if they received only one dose before July 2022. These two doses should be administered four weeks apart. For example, if you receive one dose in mid-September and a second dose in mid-October, one dose will be enough for the next year.

If you don't manage to get your flu shot by the end of October, you can still get it later. It's never "too late" while flu season continues. The peak season often falls in February, and in some years it also falls in March. A late flu shot will still protect you from viruses you have yet to encounter.

Important! The flu vaccine, contrary to popular belief, cannot cause the disease itself.

What to do if you receive a booster dose for COVID-19

You can get the flu shot and the COVID-19 booster at the same time. If you are getting a high-dose or adjuvanted flu shot, the CDC recommends using a different arm for each shot. Both shots can cause soreness and redness at the vaccination site.

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