HUMP DAY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2016-2017 FLU SEASON
Like every other year, getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and March. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later is OK.
There are many flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating flu viruses. Some people have tried to argue the effectiveness of the shot because the strains of flu change each year. However, antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses. A less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine effectiveness against the virus that is different from what is in the vaccine, but it can still provide some protection against influenza illness.
Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common. For 2016-2017, vaccines are recommended to contain:
- A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus,
- A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage).
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage)
Even when there is a less than ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the vaccine may protect against the other viruses. When most healthy people with regular immune systems are vaccinated, their bodies produce antibodies and they are protected throughout the flu season, even as antibody levels decline over time. For the 2016-2017 season, manufacturer’s projected they would provide between 157 million and 168 million doses of injectable vaccine for the U.S. market.In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications, antiviral drugs, that can be used to treat influenza illnesses.
Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.
DISCLAIMER TO THOSE WITH EGG ALLERGIES:
The protocol for vaccinations of individuals with egg allergies have changed and is now as follows: People who have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs can get any licensed flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health.However, people who have symptoms other than hives after exposure to eggs, such as angioedema, respiratory distress, lightheadedness, or recurrent emesis; or who have needed epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, also can get any licensed flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health, but the vaccine should be given in a medical setting and be supervised by a healthcare provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions. (Settings include hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices).
Written and Researched by Sarah Pasquarelli, Peer Educator