For the 2018-2019 influenza season, the CDC recommends routine annual vaccination with any licensed age-appropriate flu vaccine for all persons 6 months and older who do not have contraindications. Yearly vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from seasonal influenza.
This year, the standard dose trivalent and quadrivalent influenza vaccines have been updated to better match circulating flu viruses. Some options this season include a high dose vaccine with an ingredient to help create a stronger immune response for Elders 65 and older. Those with a history of egg allergy can receive any licensed, recommended, age-appropriate flu vaccine. And, some children and adults may be eligible to receive nasal spray flu vaccine. There is no preference for one vaccine over the other. The CDC recommends getting this year’s seasonal flu vaccine by the end of October as it typically takes two weeks after vaccination to achieve protection. Should you have questions about the type of flu vaccine that is best for you, your doctor or other health care professional can help you decide upon the best course of action.
Other flu prevention strategies include washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs, avoiding touching your eyes nose and mouth, keeping away from people who are sick and staying home when you are sick to help protect you and others from the flu.
Certain groups of people are especially encouraged to get vaccinated because they are at higher risk of having flu complications. These include young children, Elders (65 and older), pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, health care workers, people who live with or care for high risk individuals; those who have close contact with babies under 6 months of age – too young to receive the flu vaccine; and, American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are more likely to get seriously ill from the flu compared to the general population.
For people who are sick with the flu, the CDC recommends the use of antiviral medications for the treatment and prevention of influenza. Prompt treatment with antivirals begun within 48 hours of getting sick can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick and may also prevent serious complications. If you have any flu-like symptoms such as fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose contact your health care provider to see if antiviral medications can make you feel better faster.
The cost of the flu vaccine is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid, most health insurance providers and by Samish Purchased and Referred Care (Contract Health).
The information in this report has been compiled from the CDC and various other relevant government agencies and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health-care provider.
To find a flu vaccine in your area: https://vaccinefinder.org/. For more information about the 2018-2019 seasonal flu vaccine: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm or https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Flu.
Wishing You a Happy Healthy Flu-Free Season!
Mitch Markovich, RN
Samish Public Health Services