Flu vaccine: What you need to know

October 13, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everybody aged 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine.

Dr Schaffner

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that people aged 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine.

“There is complete certainty that there will be a flu season,” according to William Schaffner, MD, professor of preventive medicine, department of health policy, and professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville. “Pharmacists are important contributors to the success of this effort.”

The flu strains active last year are likely to be the most prominent this year also, according to Dr Schaffner. 

“Special attention is directed at providing influenza vaccine for pregnant women-they suffer high rates of complications when they get influenza.  Also, vaccinating pregnant women will also afford some protection to the newborn baby during its first 6 months of life before they can be vaccinated themselves.”

Because there now are more formulations of influenza vaccine than before, formulary managers are advised to stock several-“especially quadrivalent vaccine, nasal spray vaccine and the high-dose vaccine which is aimed at persons 65 years of age and older,” according to Dr Schaffner.

 

 

“At Vanderbilt, we also stock a few doses of the recombinant vaccine [not produced in eggs] for patients with a serious allergy to eggs,” he said.

Here are the newest updates for the 2014-2015 flu season:

• Adults aged 65 years and older should receive 2 vaccines against pneumococcal disease, a potential complication of the flu that can be deadly, causing pneumonia, meningitis, and blood poisoning. If an adult hasn’t been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, they will need to receive 1 dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine first. Six to 12 months later, the second vaccine, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, will need to be given.

• The nasal spray vaccine is the preferred delivery method for children aged 2 to 8 years without contraindications, including a weakened immune system, a history of egg allergy, children receiving aspirin therapy, and children aged 2 to 4 years who have had asthma or wheezing during the last 12 months.

• Children aged 6 months to 8 years may require 2 doses, especially if they’re getting vaccinated for the first time. That’s because they may not be protected against the H1N1 virus, which wasn’t added to the seasonal vaccine until the 2010-2011 flu season, according to the CDC.