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With influenza cases already being reported in the month of September 2022, many health officials are recommending that anyone six months and older get their flu shot in September and October of this year to prepare for the upcoming flu season.
“It is a perfectly good time for [people] to get the shot, right now,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine and chief of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau in New York.
He is also a hospital epidemiologist.
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Michael Kinch, Ph.D., an immunologist and vaccine expert, as well as dean of Sciences and a vice president at Long Island University in New York, told Fox News Digital, “While influenza virus can cause a severe disease in all people — regardless of health or age — older and immune-compromised people are particularly susceptible” to it.
“It is important that those individuals six months and older and who have not had previous severe allergic reactions get their flu shot every year.”
He added, “In an average year, 60,000 Americans die from influenza.”
Regarding that tremendous loss of life, he added that “most of [those losses] can be prevented by routine vaccination.”
Yet another expert weighed in on the discussion.
Dr. Fred Davis, the associate chair of Emergency Medicine at Northwell Health in Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital that he sees a number of flu cases presented to the emergency department each year. Davis recommends that people get a flu vaccine ideally before the end of October — before flu cases start to rise.
Davis also said, “It is important that those individuals six months and older and who have not had previous severe allergic reactions get their flu shot every year.”
By getting the flu vaccine annually, people reduce the chances of serious complications from the influenza virus.
Each year the flu shot is formulated to protect against the four most likely influenza viruses expected to be the most prevalent that year, Davis noted.
By getting the flu vaccine annually, he said, people reduce the chances of serious complications from the influenza virus.
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“Those more at risk are [people older] than 65 years old, those with certain chronic medical conditions (ie asthma, heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease) and those who are pregnant,” he said.
“The annual flu vaccine is specifically important in these groups to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from influenza,” Davis told Fox News Digital.
While federal health officials recommend that most individuals six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season, in rare exceptions it’s not appropriate.
Some vaccines may not be right for certain individuals, health officials said as well.
“Different influenza vaccines are approved for different age groups,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes on its website.
There are standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines that are approved for those as young as six months of age, the CDC noted; however, some vaccines are approved only for adults.
“Some people (for example, pregnant people and people with some chronic health conditions) should not get some types of influenza vaccines, and some people should not receive flu vaccines at all (although this is uncommon).”
The CDC also said that different flu shots are approved for people of different ages — and that everyone should get a vaccine that is appropriate for their age.
There are standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines that are approved for people as young as six months of age, the agency noted; however, some vaccines are approved only for adults.
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These include the recombinant flu vaccine that is approved for people aged 18 years and older, and the adjuvant and high-dose inactivated vaccines that are approved for people 65 years and older.
Three flu vaccines this year
Beginning with the 2022-2023 flu season, the CDC said there are three flu vaccines that are recommended for people aged 65 and older.
These vaccines are the Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, the Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and the Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine.
Davis told Fox News Digital it’s recommended that people age 65 and over receive one of these shots because these are higher doses than the other vaccines — and the higher doses are potentially more effective in fighting the flu for this age group.
The CDC points out that women who are pregnant and people with certain chronic health conditions can get a flu shot as well as those people with an egg allergy.
Health experts, however, also said it is important that people discuss their individual cases with their health care providers to see if the vaccine is right for them.
The CDC also states that there are rare circumstances in which certain individuals should not receive a flu shot.
Those who should swimming get a flu vaccine includes children younger than six months of age and individuals with “severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins).”
The CDC said it is important to speak with health care providers before getting a flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a severe paralyzing illness.
The agency said this might include antibiotics, gelatin and other ingredients.
The CDC also said that people who had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past may not be able to receive other influenza vaccines.
It is vital to speak with a physician or health care provider to see if vaccination is appropriate.
The CDC said it is also important to speak with health care providers before getting a flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a severe paralyzing illness — as some people with a history of GBS should not get a flu vaccine.
In addition, if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of any other flu vaccine, discuss with a health care provider whether you should abstain from a new flu vaccine this time around.
“This year will definitely be tougher than the last two flu seasons, because society is opening up again — and people are wearing masks less and less.”
If you’re not feeling well, talk to a doctor first about your symptoms — to see if it is an appropriate time to get a flu vaccine or not, the CDC also pointed out.
Nasal spray vs. injection: What to know
When it comes to the nasal spray flu vaccine vs. injection, health experts told Fox News Digital that it is vital to talk to your physician to see if this type of vaccine is appropriate — as there are several scenarios in which it’s contraindicated and in which a shot would be safer.
“The nasal spray is a live, attenuated vaccine, meaning it’s a weakened but living flu virus,” said Dr. Ken Zweig, MD, a primary care physician with Northern Virginia Family Practice in Arlington, Va.
“It won’t cause a problem in health patients, but it could potentially result in a flu infection in anyone who is pregnant, immuno-suppressed or very young — less than two years old,” he also said.
Zweig is an assistant professor of medicine at both Georgetown University and George Washington University Medical Schools in Washington, DC
Zweig added, “There are other less common reasons not to get the nasal spray, so anyone considering it should check with their physician first.”
Zweig also told Fox News Digital, “This year will definitely be tougher than the last two flu seasons, because society is opening up again — and people are wearing masks less and less.”
“A lot of people have vaccine fatigue from all the COVID shots — and more infants and toddlers have never seen the flu … so they likely don’t have any immunity.”
Zweig is hopeful the likelihood of spreading the flu virus will decrease, since COVID is still on people’s minds and many people are exercising caution.
“Most people are still less likely to go to work or see friends when they have cold symptoms, so I think there will be less chance to spread the flu than there was prior to COVID,” he said.
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However, Zweig is still concerned.
“A lot of people have vaccine fatigue from all the COVID shots — and more infants and toddlers have never seen the flu, since the last two seasons have been so mild, so they likely don’t have any immunity,” he said.
“The best way to ensure a milder flu season is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, so be sure to get vaccinated.”
Glatt also told Fox News Digital, “Flu remains a very serious illness that we need to eradicate — and the best way to prevent getting very serious flu illness is through vaccination.”