Should I get a Flu Shot?

YOU AND THE FLU

This time of year there is a lot of buzz about the flu shot. There are many opinions and myths that are passed around from person to person. Many people feel because they are healthy or have never had the flu they don’t need a flu vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine is not only to protect yourself but to protect others around you. If you have any interaction with children, the elderly, or are a health care worker then you need a flu vaccine in order to protect yourself as well as your loved ones.
Listed below are some common myths about the flu vaccine and information that dispels those myths! Make sure you are informed!
Myth #1: I can get the flu from the flu shot.
You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The flu vaccine that is in the injectable form contains a flu virus that is killed (inactivated), so it can’t cause the flu.
Myth #2: I can get the flu from the flu shot nasal formulation.
Unlike the injectable flu vaccine this formulation does contain the viruses in live form, but the viruses are in a weakened state. Since the viruses are in a weakened state they can’t cause the flu. Also, the viruses are cold-adapted so they can’t replicate anywhere but the nose.
Myth #3: It is better to get the flu than the flu vaccine.
NO WAY! The flu is no fun and can result in hospitalizations or even death in normal healthy individuals. Are you willing to take this risk? The costs associated with loss work and/or potential hospitalizations don’t fit anyone’s budget!
Myth #4: I don’t need a flu vaccine every year.
The protection from the flu vaccine decreases over time, so in order to have the most protection the CDC recommends receiving the vaccine every year. Each year the vaccine components are evaluated and projected to cover the flu strains that will be present that year.
Myth #5: Side effects from the shot are worse than getting the flu.
All you have to do is ask someone who has truly had the flu and they will dispel this myth. After getting the flu shot some people may experience redness, soreness, or swelling where the vaccine was injected. Sometimes people may experience a low grade fever or body aches for a day or two. After getting the nasal spray formulation patients sometimes experience a runny nose, cough, chills, tiredness, nasal congestion, sore throat, or headache for a short period of time. True flu symptoms have more severe reactions and can potentially lead to pneumonia and hospitalization, so it is still better to get the vaccine.
(Reference for myths: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm)
BE INFORMED!
This year there are a few different presentations of the flu vaccine.
Inactivated Influenza vaccine (IIV3) -this presentation is made up of 3 strains (trivalent) of flu that are the most common strands that may appear within the current flu season.
Inactivated Influenza vaccine (IIV4) - This year a new formulation including an extra B strain called a quadrivalent vaccine has been developed.
**The Advisory Committee on Immunization practices (ACIP) is not currently recommending the trivalent over the quadrivalent.
Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4) – is the Live Intranasal Influenza vaccine only indicated in ages 2-49 and should not be given in anyone who is immunocompromised, has asthma, or is pregnant.
And just when you thought you had it all figured out, there is still another presentation specifically for those patients age 65 years and older. This product is called Fluzone High-Dose (aka Fluzone HD). This formulation takes the standard flu vaccine (IIV3) and kicks it up to four times its potency! As you age your immune system has a harder time mounting a response to a vaccine, thus this extra kick-start is warranted. Current studies do not advocate the HD over the standard, but the key is to make an informed decision. Therefore, patients 65 years and older can receive either formulation.
SO MUCH INFORMATION, SO LITTLE TIME.
Yes, it is important to get your flu shot when they first become available in the market, which is NOW! It takes 2 weeks after getting the vaccine to build up the proper antibody response, so don’t wait. If you are still having trouble determining which product to select, talk to your healthcare provider or stop by your Kroger Pharmacy – that’s what we are here for! http://www.kroger.com/pharmacy

Authors:
Kristie Robertson, Pharm D
Kroger Pharmacy Resident, annual flu shot recipient and administrator

Pheli Robert, RPh, Pharm D
Kroger Pharmacist, mother of 4, annual flu shot recipient and administrator