What to Expect from the 2019/2020 Flu Vaccine
It is that time of the year again. Time to make the annual trek to the doctor’s office to help reduce the risk of getting the flu this season. Here are the top eleven answers to questions or concerns most parents have about the flu and the 2019/2020 flu vaccine.
- Have there been cases of the flu reported locally? According to the CDC’s most recent report, there have been confirmed cases of the flu in North Carolina this season. In Fayetteville and our local region, there are no confirmed cases formally reported yet, however, there are reported flu-like symptoms. The NCDHHS doesn’t start collecting data on confirmed flu cases until October. Once they begin, updates specific to North Carolina can be found here.
- Who should receive the flu vaccine? It is recommended by the CDC that all people age 6 months and over receive the flu vaccine. Some children aged 6 months to 8 years of age will need two doses of the vaccine.
- Does my child need two doses of the flu vaccine? If your child has not previously received two or more doses of any trivalent or quadrivalent flu vaccine before July 1, 2019, they will need two doses this year. The vaccine should be administered at least four weeks apart, so plan ahead. If the vaccination history is not known, two vaccines should also be administered.
- How effective will this year’s flu vaccine be? All 2019 and 2020 flu vaccines contain the same flu strains that are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as those expected to circulate this season. For children, all vaccines will be quadrivalent vaccines, which means they protect against four different types of influenza. This year’s flu vaccine is recommended to contain: 1. H1N1-like virus, 2. H3N2-like virus, 3. Victoria lineage virus, 4. Yamagata lineage virus. The third and fourth are influenza type-B viruses.
- Is the live (nasal spray) flu vaccine available this year for my child? Yes! This year, there are two options available for healthy people between the ages of 2-49. There is no preference given for any flu vaccine this year. This live version of the flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. More information about the live virus can be found here.
- Does the live-flu vaccine cause the flu? The Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), also known as the nasal spray vaccine protects against all four flu viruses expected this season. Flu vaccines (whether live or not) do not cause flu illness. While the live version does contain live viruses, they are weakened (attenuated) so they cannot make you (or your child) sick with the flu. The live vaccine can cause other side effects, however, that usually begin shortly after vaccination and are short-lived in duration. These symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- My child has egg allergies. Is the vaccine safe for her? Some of the strains of the flu vaccine are grown inside eggs, which required kids with egg allergies to check with their pediatrician before receiving the vaccine. Health experts now say that the amount of egg protein in the vaccine is trace so it is safe for kids – even those with a severe egg allergy. However, any person who has had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine, regardless of how it was derived, should not receive the flu vaccine. Ask your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure.
- When should my child get vaccinated to protect against the flu? The CDC recommends that people receive their vaccination by the end of October. They do not recommend waiting for the flu to arrive in our region as it does not provide protection immediately. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against the flu.
- I have a baby who is too young to receive the vaccine. How can I protect him from the flu? The best way to protect an infant 6-months of age or younger is to ensure everyone in the household is vaccinated against the flu. Pregnant mothers should receive the inactivated flu vaccine during pregnancy as this helps protect the infant against the flu after they are born. Postpartum women who did not receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy should get vaccinated before being discharged from the hospital. It is safe for breastfeeding mothers to receive the vaccine. More information on pregnancy and the flu vaccine can be found here.
- My family doesn’t need the flu vaccine because we can take an antiviral drug, like Tamiflu, if we get sick. Antiviral drugs can help shorten the duration of flu symptoms, but they do not protect against the flu and are not a substitute. Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense that is available to you should the flu occur.
- Can the flu vaccine cause autism? According to the CDC, there is no link between vaccines and autism. The ingredients used in vaccines do not cause autism. Research shows that thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) does not cause ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Thimerosal-free flu vaccines are available as an option.
Act now and get your entire family vaccinated against the flu. Our offices began offering the 2019/2020 flu vaccine this week. Call today to schedule an appointment as we will not be offering flu clinics. We look forward to helping your family stay as safe as possible this flu season.