Vaccination against influenza should begin as soon as physicians receive the flu vaccine in their offices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And once again, CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone older than 6 months.
And while the virus strains in this year's vaccine are the same as last season, CDC emphasizes the need for the annual vaccination, as immunity may have decreased. CDC officials expect more vaccine to be available this year – an estimated 166 million doses compared with last year's 157 million doses.
Different types of flu vaccine are available this year.
There are three different kinds of trivalent inactivated vaccine:
- The regular trivalent inactivated vaccine is approved for patients 6 months and older, including healthy people, those with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant women.
- A "high-dose" trivalent inactivated vaccine is approved for patients aged 65 years and older.
- An intradermal trivalent inactivated vaccine is approved for patients aged 18-64 years.
The live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine (LAIV) given as a nasal spray is approved for healthy people aged 2-49 years who are not pregnant.
Children aged between 6 months and 8 years who did not receive at least one dose of vaccine last year or whose vaccination status is unknown require a second dose of the vaccine four weeks after the first dose.
TMA's influenza webpage includes information on CDC recommendations, as well as tools for physicians to help promote vaccines. And, TMA's Be Wise — ImmunizeSM immunization awareness program offers a fact sheet on influenza immunization [PDF]. To order the fact sheet, email Outreach Coordinator Tammy Wishard or call her at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1470, or (512) 370-1470.
Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.
Action, Sept. 1, 2011