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Ask Dr. Nandi: The new flu vaccine recommendations as flu season approaches

Posted at 5:38 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 17:38:06-04

The cooler rainy weather has arrived which means we spend more time indoors. And that gives those nasty viruses more opportunities to spread.  

Although you can catch the flu anytime throughout the year, flu season kicks off in October, which is just a few days away.  

So, to protect yourself, it’s time for the flu shot.  

The flu vaccine changes from year to year because the actual flu virus changes.  So that means everyone over the age of 6 months should be getting the new vaccine anytime now.  

It’s best to get vaccinated in early fall because it takes about two weeks for your immune system to develop antibodies that fight it off.  

There’s some good news for those who don’t like getting the shot. After being off the market for two years, the nasal spray flu vaccine is back, but only for those who are not pregnant and between the ages of 2 and 49.  

Last year was the deadliest flu season we’ve had in years with H3N2 as the predominated virus.  

The CDC reported 180 children died from the flu and thousands were hospitalized. And right here in Michigan, we had over 45,000 reported cases of Influenza.  

Now there are different flu vaccine options which will help protect against three or four viruses. The trivalent contains three strains of the flu virus, H1N1, H3N2, and an influenza B strain component. The quadrivalent, which contains four strains, includes those I mentioned plus a second influenza B strain.

So, will the flu vaccine be more effective this year? Unfortunately, it’s not possible to predict that. But the CDC says the vaccines are a better match to circulating viruses. 

Getting the flu shot is the best defense we have. Yes, it can be imperfect, but studies suggest those who are vaccinated but still get sick tend to have fewer symptoms.  

Let’s remember the flu is a potentially serious disease. And getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and flu-related death in children.