Let's Talk Flu Vaccines
Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Let's Talk Flu Vaccines
Flu vaccines are being shipped and should be in your doctor's office by now. We received ours in August and have already started vaccinating patients. As in previous years, everyone age 6 months and older needs to be vaccinated.
This year's vaccine contains three strains of influenza virus that are identical to last year's chosen strains. Even though the vaccines are identical, that doesn't mean you can skip your flu shot this year. Because protection from the flu wanes over the year, it's important to get re-vaccinated annually. You just don't know how much antibody you have left!
For children 6 months old to age 8, and who've never been vaccinated, the recommendation continues to be that they should receive two doses of vaccine, given at least four weeks apart.
If your child received at least one dose of flu vaccine in 2010-2011, he/she will only need one dose of the 2011-2012 vaccine.
The recommendation for pregnant women to be vaccinated also continues. There has been some good recent data that babies born to mothers who had received flu vaccine had a 45-to-48 percent LESS chance of being hospitalized with the flu than babies born to unvaccinated mothers. So, the take home message is that your baby, even in utero, is getting antibody protection from the mother. We've known this about other diseases and now there's evidence of influenza protection, too.
As we move into fall, flu viruses are also back from "vacation," so get your vaccination now.
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