**If you'd like more details on the subject, go to www.cdc.gov. 

  • Because influenza can kill you. 
    • circulatory causes (including pneumonia and influenza) in the United States ranged from 3349 to 48,614 annually, and the annual rate of influenza-associated deaths ranged from 1.4 to 16.7 deaths per 100,000 persons. The morbidity caused by influenza in the general population is substantial. Among adults, increased rates of morbidity and mortality are associated with advanced age and with underlying comorbidities.
  • Because you will miss 7-10 days of work or school.  
    • Influenza characteristically begins with the abrupt onset of fever, headache, myalgia, and malaise, nonproductive cough, sore throat, and nasal discharge.  If uncomplicated, recovery starts in 5 to 7 days.  
  • Because there are dangerous complications.  
    • The major complication of influenza is pneumonia which initially is due to the virus, but may later be bacterial.  Central nervous system disease may be associated with influenza; manifestations may include encephalopathy, encephalitis, transverse myelitis, aseptic meningitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Other complications of influenza include myositis, rhabdomyolysis, myocarditis, pericarditis, and toxic shock syndrome. 
  • Because you could infect others before you realize you are sick.
    • The typical incubation period for influenza is one to four days (average two days). The time between onset of illness among household contacts among whom transmission has occurred is three to four days 

What is the flu vaccine?

Standard-dose trivalent and quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccines – The available inactivated influenza vaccines in the United States are preparations of subvirion components ("split product" vaccines) that have been inactivated. The standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccines are approved by the FDA for intramuscular injection in adults of any age. These vaccines are produced in embryonated chicken eggs. During the 2014 to 2015 influenza season, both quadrivalent and trivalent formulations of inactivated vaccines are available.

What that means in English is that we are injecting little dead pieces of virus protein?

Who should get the flu vaccine and when? — All people age 6 months or older should get the flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for certain people at high risk, The best time of year to get the flu vaccine is before the winter season begins. In the United States, it’s best to get the vaccine by October. If you are age 65 or older, you should only get the vaccine that goes into muscle. Ask about getting the high-dose version of this vaccine, if it is available. In older people, the high-dose version works a little better than the standard-dose version, though both are effective.  Attenuated live virus nasal spray is no longer recommended for children.

What side effects does the flu vaccine cause?

I don’t care what your friend Harry said.  You cannot catch the flu from the flu shot.

Often the vaccine causes no side effects. When it does cause side effects, it can cause:

  • Redness, mild swelling, or soreness where you got the shot (if you got a shot)
  • A mild fever
  • A mild rash
  • Headache or body aches

Vaccines rarely cause serious side effects, such as severe allergic reactions.

Does the flu vaccine cause the flu? — No, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. People sometimes feel sick after getting the vaccine, but this is often because they were already starting to get sick with the flu or another virus before they had the vaccine..

Does the flu vaccine cause autism? — No. After doing many careful studies, scientists have not found any link between vaccines and autism. Many years ago, a study reported a link between autism and vaccines. But that study turned out to be false. It has been withdrawn. 

 What if I am pregnant? — If you are pregnant, it is very important to get the flu vaccine. In pregnant women, flu symptoms can get worse quickly and be dangerous. The flu can even cause trouble breathing or lead to death of the woman or her baby. That is why it is so important to get the flu vaccine if you are or will be pregnant during flu season.

What if I have an egg allergy? — If you have an egg allergy, you should still get the flu vaccine. People with serious egg allergies sometimes have a bad reaction to some versions of the flu vaccine. But people with mild allergies can often take egg-made vaccines. Plus, there are now egg-free versions of the flu vaccine, which can be used in adults 18 to 49 years of age. If you have an egg allergy, remember to tell your doctor or nurse. That way, he or she can choose the safest flu vaccine for you and keep an eye on you after you get the vaccine to make sure that you do not have a bad reaction.

FluBlok (RIV) is a recombinant hemagglutinin influenza vaccine available as a trivalent formulation. RIV does not contain any egg protein.

What else can I do to prevent the flu? — In addition to getting the flu vaccine every year, you can:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol hand rubs
  • Stay away from people you know are sick

If you are exposed to the flu, call me right away.  Antiviral medicines can help protect you from the flu, but those medicines are not appropriate for everyone. Also, antiviral medicines work only if you start them very soon after being exposed or as soon as you show symptoms.

To protect others, you should also:

  • Stay home if you get the flu. Do not go to work or school until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, without taking fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol. If you work in a healthcare setting taking care of patients, you might need to stay home longer if you are still coughing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

Is there anything I can do if I think I have been exposed to the flu or are coming down with the flu?

>>>>>> Yes.  Call your doc immediately.  There is a pill you can take to reduce risk of coming down with the flu.  It can reduce the severity as well.  The technical info on the meds at end of this diatribe.


How effective was the 2015-2016 flu vaccine?

CDC’s end-of-season influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) estimates for the 2015-2016 season were presented to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on June 22, 2016. CDC’s adjusted overall VE estimate against influenza A and B viruses for all ages was 47%. The overall VE against A(H1N1)pdm09 was 41% and the overall VE against influenza B was 55%. This data is consistent with VE observed during previous seasons when vaccine viruses and circulating viruses were similar. These vaccine effectiveness estimates were derived from data collected from the U.S. Flu VE Network from November 2, 2015, through April 15, 2016.

What was the 2015-2016 flu season like?

Flu seasons can vary in their timing, severity, and duration from one season to another. The 2015-2016 flu season started a little later than the previous three flu seasons. The season also peaked later. While H3N2 viruses predominated early in the season, H1N1 viruses were the most common later in the season and were the predominant virus for the entire season. This is the virus that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic and that caused severe illness in some children & young-and middle-aged adults. Athough there were reports of severe flu illnesses and deaths, overall the 2015-2016 season was milder than the previous three seasons.

Antiviral medications with activity against influenza viruses are an important adjunct to influenza vaccine in the control of influenza.

  • Influenza antiviral prescription drugs can be used to treat influenza or to prevent influenza.

  • Five licensed prescription influenza antiviral agents are available in the United States. 

    • Three influenza antiviral medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are recommended for use in the United States during the 2015-2016 influenza season: oral oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), inhaled zanamivir (Relenza®), and intravenous peramivir (Rapivab®). These drugs are chemically related antiviral medications known as neuraminidase inhibitors that have activity against both influenza A and B viruses.
    • Amantadine and rimantadine are antiviral drugs in a class of medications known as adamantanes. These medications are active against influenza A viruses, but not influenza B viruses. As in recent past seasons, there continues to be high levels of resistance (>99%) to adamantanes among influenza A (H3N2) and influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 ("2009 H1N1") viruses. Therefore, amantadine and rimantadine ARE NOT RECOMMENDED for antiviral treatment or chemoprophylaxis of currently circulating influenza A viruses.
  • Antiviral resistance to oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir among circulating influenza viruses is currently low, but this can change. Also, antiviral resistance can emerge during or after treatment in some patients (e.g., immunosuppressed). 

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2 A’s and a B or 2 A’s and 2 B’s

For the vaccine for the northern hemisphere's influenza season that will begin in the fall of 2016, WHO recently recommended including the A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage), with the addition of B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage), for the quadrivalent vaccine.

These same strains were recommended in September by WHO for the southern hemisphere's 2016 winter vaccine.

The H3N2 strain and the B strain will be new for the US and northern hemisphere 2016-2017 trivalent vaccine. In 2015-2016, the trivalent vaccine included A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, the A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus, and the B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. The quadrivalent vaccine included B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

Flu Shots

Recombinant Influenza Vaccine (RIV)

FluBlok (RIV) is a recombinant hemagglutinin influenza vaccine available as a trivalent formulation. RIV does not contain any egg protein.  RIV is indicated for active immunization against disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and type B and is approved for use in individuals 18 years of age and older. RIV is administered as an injection and may cause pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, and may also cause fever, malaise and myalgias which are usually mild and self-limited. RIV cannot cause influenza