Flu Vaccines

Vaccine Recommendation

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when 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 certain people 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.

  • Pregnant women
  • 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)

Vaccine Availability

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine shipments began in August and will continue throughout September and October until all vaccine is distributed.

Our Office will begin flu vaccinations begining in late August/September when our flu vaccines arrive.

2011-2012 Flu Vaccine Formulation

What viruses do flu vaccines protect against?

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the three influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season.

Each season, this includes an influenza B virus, an influenza A (H1N1) virus and an influenza A (H3N2) virus. (These are the three virus subtypes that are circulating most commonly among people today.)

What viruses will the 2011-2012 vaccine protect against?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the United State’s 2011–2012 seasonal influenza vaccine contain the following three vaccine viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
  • an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
  • The 2011–12 influenza vaccine can protect you from getting sick from these three viruses, or it can make your illness milder if you get a related but different influenza virus strain. The viruses in this season’s vaccine are the same viruses that were selected for the 2010-2011 influenza vaccine for the United States.

Why did the vaccine composition remain the same?

The viruses selected for the vaccine remained the same because they continued to be the main viruses causing human illness worldwide.

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

CDC recommends an influenza (flu) vaccine every year as the first and best way to protect against getting the flu. By 2 weeks after vaccination, the body develops antibodies to protect against the viruses in the vaccine. Those antibodies help protect us from influenza viruses if we come in contact with them later. However multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. The decline in antibodies is influenced by several factors, including a person’s age, the antigen used in the vaccine, and the person’s general health (for example, certain chronic health conditions may have an impact on immunity). While specific data on the duration of immunity from the 2010-2011 influenza vaccine is not available, CDC experts believe that immunity from vaccination (or infection) last season will have decreased by now in most people. It is not possible to say whether this reduced immunity would still be sufficient to prevent infection in 2011-2012 and therefore it is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated this season, regardless of whether they were vaccinated last season.

If I got a vaccine in 2010-2011, why do I need to get another one this season if the vaccine formulation didn’t change?

Your body’s level of immunity from a vaccine received last season is expected to have declined. You may not have enough immunity to be protected from getting sick this season. You should be vaccinated again to raise your immune levels against the three viruses that research indicates are likely to circulate again this season.

How often are the viruses in the influenza vaccine changed?

Most seasons, viruses in the influenza vaccine are changed to keep up with the influenza viruses as they evolve. It’s uncommon that the same three vaccine virus strains are the same from one season to the next, but this has happened before. Since 1969, the viruses selected for inclusion in the influenza vaccine have remained the same eight times (including the 2011-2012 season). Each time, CDC has stressed the importance of getting vaccinated each season.

Has CDC always recommended vaccination each year, regardless of vaccine virus strain changes?

Yes. CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccine as the first and best way to protect against influenza. This recommendation is (and has been) the same even during years when the vaccine composition (the viruses the vaccine protects against) remains unchanged from the previous season.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, seniors were said to be at a lower risk of infection than young people, possibly because of residual immunity from prior infections with certain H1N1 influenza viruses that circulated decades ago. How can decades-old remaining immunity be sufficient to protect one age group during the pandemic, but a flu vaccine given last season may not be sufficient to offer protection this season?

It is believed that many people older than 65 years had infections with influenza viruses related to 2009 H1N1 viruses decades earlier had some remaining immunity that helped to protect them against 2009 H1N1 infection. This was confirmed by laboratory testing conducted during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on blood samples from people of different age groups which showed many had some antibody against 2009 H1N1, even before the 2009 H1N1 virus began spreading among people. In fact, seniors were less likely to become ill from 2009 H1N1 than people in other age groups. However, protection was far from perfect. An estimated 6 million people 65 years and older became ill with 2009 H1N1 in the United States and those who did become ill were at greater risk of having serious complications from their illness. Although long-lasting immunity has been shown to occur after infection, it has not been shown to occur after vaccination. Because antibody produced after vaccination is not long-lasting, CDC recommends yearly vaccination to ensure that people have optimal protection each fall through spring, when influenza activity occurs. CDC maintains that a yearly influenza vaccine is necessary to achieve the best protection against influenza because immunity wanes from one season to the next. Importantly, during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, seniors were recommended to receive the vaccine, even though there was evidence that they might have some immunity from infections with H1N1 viruses that circulated decades ago.

When should I get the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community, but vaccination can take place at any time throughout the influenza season. Influenza seasons are unpredictable, and can begin as early as October. And, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. Therefore, CDC recommends people be vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before influenza season begins.

Call our office 847 382-7337 to make an appointment to get your children vaccinated for flu!