Take Action, Fight The Flu
Influenza (flu) season is here once again. Influenza is a highly contagious, serious illness which can lead to hospitalization and even death. It infects the respiratory tract and spreads by both direct and indirect contact with an infected person.
Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May. Flu vaccination should begin as soon as vaccine becomes available and continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even as late as January and February or as long as flu viruses are circulating.
Every flu season is different. Estimates of annual flu-associated deaths in the U.S. range anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people each year with flu-associated death typically in the top 10 causes of death yearly in the United States. Additionally, more than 20,000 American children under the age of 5 are hospitalized and approximately 100 children under 5 die each year from the flu and its complications. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
Therefore, it is recommended that everyone 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine. Children aged 6 months through 8 years require 2 doses of influenza vaccine (administered a minimum of 4 weeks apart) during their first season of vaccination to optimize their immune response.
Some people that are at particularly high risk of developing serious complications if they get influenza include people who have certain medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease); children under 5 years old; people 65 years and older; and pregnant women. Pregnant women are more sensitive to the flu due to their changing immune systems. Being infected with influenza can cause serious problems for a pregnant woman's unborn baby including premature labor and delivery. Additionally, fever in early pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Getting the flu shot during pregnancy protects both mom and baby. The vaccine provides some protection to the baby after he or she is born. Breastfeeding can help the baby stay healthy during flu season as well.
People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications should make certain to receive their annual flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. These include household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions; household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old; and healthcare workers. Vaccination of healthcare workers has been shown to reduce influenza infection in addition to preventing mortality in their patients.
New vaccines are created for each flu season and this season (2016-2017) there are a variety of influenza vaccines available including:
- Inactivated Influenza Vaccine, Trivalent (IIV3), Standard Dose
- Inactivated Influenza Vaccine, Trivalent (IIV3), High Dose
- Recombinant Influenza Vaccine, Trivalent (RIV3) (Egg Free).
- Adjuvant Containing Influenza Vaccine, Trivalent (allV3).
- Inactivated Influenza Vaccine, Quadrivalent (IIV4), Standard Dose Intramuscular
- Inactivated Influenza Vaccine, Quadrivalent, (IIV4-ID), Standard Dose Intradermal
- Inactivated Influenza Vaccine, Quadrivalent, (ccIIV4) Cell Culture Derived
The CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another (trivalent vs. quadrivalent; intramuscular vs intradermal; standard dose vs. high dose). However, the CDC does recommend RIV3 (FluBlok) for people 18-49 years old with an egg allergy of any severity. FluBlok does not use the influenza virus or chicken eggs in its manufacturing process.
Healthcare providers, coalitions and health departments play an important role during the annual flu season. Additional information on seasonal influenza can be found on ECBT's influenza page.
Find out more about what you can do to “Fight The Flu” by visiting flu.gov. We recommend that you look at the section devoted to the Health Professional, Community Planners, Schools and others under the Planning & Preparedness section. In addition, the CDC website has flu information specifically for healthcare professionals and flu prevention partners.
Antivirals Guidance for Healthcare Professionals
Flu Fact Vs. Fiction
Inactivated Influenza Vaccine Information Statement
ACIP Influenza Recommendations (2016–2017)
CDC Flu Information for Parents with Young Children
HealthMap Vaccine Finder