Vaccines in Practice: Influenza (Flu)
January 29, 2018
We are well into influenza season. Many of your patients have already received their flu vaccination. However, some patients may be asking “Should I still get a flu shot? I’ve heard it isn’t working this year.”
Reports of potential low vaccine effectiveness for the influenza H3N2 strain are circulating. Flu vaccine effectiveness is dependent on many factors including the match to the circulating strains of virus, and the age and health status of patients. The flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses, depending on the vaccine. While the flu vaccine is not perfect and some people who get vaccinated may still get flu, there is data to suggest that flu vaccination may make the flu illness milder.
You can respond to those questioning whether to get a flu vaccination with this answer: “The flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization. When you get vaccinated it protects the people around you like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions. In addition, the flu vaccination provides protection against other strains of flu, including influenza B.”
It is too early to say what the efficacy of the flu vaccine will be in the United States this season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for influenza prevention have not changed. While the current influenza vaccine may not be perfect, it is better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated. For more information on influenza vaccine effectiveness, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm.
Written by Susan Reeser, RN, Nurse Consultant & Perinatal Hepatitis B Coordinator with the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services Immunization Program.
Read more of Mountain-Pacific’s blogs to learn how to live a healthier life.