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Seasonal Health Focus - Event FAQ
Pharmacy

Frequently Asked Flu Questions

Q: Will I get the flu from the flu shot?
Q: Do I need a flu shot every year?
Q: When should I get a flu shot?
Q: Why get a flu shot?
Q: How effective is the flu shot?
Q: Who should get a flu shot?
Q: Who is at higher risk for developing flu-related complications?
Q: Who else should get vaccinated?
Q: Can I still get the flu after I get the flu shot?
Q: What are the side effects of getting a flu shot?
Q: How much does a flu shot cost?
Q: What is Fluzone High-Dose influenza vaccine?
Q: What is the difference between the regular flu shot and Fluzone High-Dose?
Q: Why is a higher dose vaccine available for adults 65 and older?
Q: Does the higher dose vaccine produce a better immune response in adults 65 years and older?
Q: Is Fluzone High-Dose safe?
Q: Who can get this vaccine?
Q: Does CDC recommend one vaccine above another for people 65 and older?
Q: What is quadrivalent flu vaccine?
Q: Why was the quadrivalent flu vaccine developed?
Q: Is the quadrivalent flu vaccine safe?
Q: Who can receive the quadrivalent flu vaccine?
Q: Who shouldn't get the quadrivalent flu vaccine?
Q: Is the quadrivalent flu vaccine recommended over the trivalent flu vaccine?
Q: What are cell-based flu vaccines?
Q: Why are cell-based flu vaccines being developed?
Q: What are the possible benefits of using cell-based influenza vaccines?
Q: What were the results of the clinical trials using cell-based technology?


Q: Will I get the flu from the flu shot?
A: No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection.

Q: Do I need a flu shot every year?
A: Yes. Influenza viruses continually change every year. A new vaccine is used annually to fight the most current influenza virus. In addition, the antibodies a person develops from the vaccine decline over time.

Q: When should I get a flu shot?
A: Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as the vaccine becomes available and continue throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time, influenza activity peaks in January, February or later.

Q: Why get a flu shot?
A: Influenza usually leaves its victims unable to function for several days and is responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations and about 36,000 deaths each year.* Getting an annual flu shot is your best protection.

*ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) 2006.

Q: How effective is the flu shot?
A: The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity or "match" between the viruses or virus in the vaccine and those in circulation.

Q: Who should get a flu shot?
A: Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for "universal" flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it's especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.

Q: Who is at higher risk for developing flu-related complications?
A: People for whom vaccination is especially important are:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications
  • People who have medical conditions including:
    • Asthma (even if it's controlled or mild)
    • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury]
    • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
    • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
    • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
    • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
    • Kidney disorders
    • Liver disorders
    • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
    • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
    • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
    • People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater)


Q: Who else should get vaccinated?
A: Other people for whom vaccination is especially important are:

  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 years of age with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children younger than 6 months of age (children younger than 6 months are at highest risk of flu-related complications but are too young to get vaccinated)


Q: Can I still get the flu after I get the flu shot?
A: Yes. Like other vaccines, flu vaccine is not 100% effective and does not take effect until one or two weeks after it is received. During this time, you will be just as susceptible to contract the flu as individuals who have not received the vaccination. Still, the best option to prevent flu is to get a yearly flu shot.

Q: What are the side effects of getting a flu shot?
A:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever (low grade)
  • Aches
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days.

People who have had a severe reaction to eggs or a flu shot in the past should not get a flu shot before seeing a physician.

Q: How much does a flu shot cost?
A: The flu shot costs $30. However, Medicare Part B and many insurance plans are accepted.

Q: What is Fluzone High-Dose influenza vaccine?
A: Fluzone High-Dose is a influenza vaccine, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc., designed specifically for people 65 years and older.

Q: What is the difference between the regular flu shot and Fluzone High-Dose?
A: The regular flu shot and Fluzone High-Dose are both injectable influenza vaccines, made up of the 3 flu strains most likely to cause illness for that particular flu season, to protect people from influenza. Fluzone High-Dose vaccines contain 4 times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in the person getting the vaccine.

Q: Why is a higher dose vaccine available for adults 65 and older?
A: Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which places older people at greater risk of severe illness from influenza. Also, ageing decreases the body's ability to have a good immune response after getting influenza vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is supposed to give older people a better immune response and therefore better protection against flu.

Q: Does the higher dose vaccine produce a better immune response in adults 65 years and older?
A: Data from clinical trials comparing Fluzone to Fluzone High-Dose among persons aged 65 years or older indicate that a stronger immune response (i.e. higher antibody levels) occurs after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose. Whether or not the improved immune response leads to greater protection against influenza disease after vaccination is not yet known. An ongoing study designed to determine the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose in preventing illness from influenza compared to Fluzone is expected to be completed in 2014-2015.

Q: Is Fluzone High-Dose safe?
A: The safety profile of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is similar to that of regular flu vaccines, although adverse events (which are also reported after regular flu vaccines) were reported more frequently after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose. The most common adverse events experienced during clinical studies were mild and temporary and included pain, redness and swelling at the injection site and headache, muscle aches, fever and malaise. Most people had minimal or no adverse events after receiving the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine.

Q: Who can get this vaccine?
A: Fluzone High-Dose is approved for use in people 65 years of age and older. As with all flu vaccines, Fluzone High-Dose is not recommended for people who have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past.

Q: Does CDC recommend one vaccine above another for people 65 and older?
A: CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu, however, neither CDC nor ACIP is expressing a preference of one vaccine over another at this time.

Q: What is quadrivalent flu vaccine?
A: The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

Q: Why was the quadrivalent flu vaccine developed?
A: For years, flu vaccines have been trivalent, or designed to protect against three different flu viruses¿two A viruses and one B virus. Experts have had to choose between two very different B viruses for that year¿s flu vaccine, even though both B viruses spread in most seasons. This meant the vaccine did not help to protect against the second group of B viruses that was not included in the vaccine. By adding another B virus to the vaccine, quadrivalent vaccines may give broader protection.

Q: Is the quadrivalent flu vaccine safe?
A: Yes. Flu vaccines that protect against four flu viruses are made in the same way as the flu vaccines that have been around for years that protect against three flu viruses. The difference is the addition of another vaccine virus. Studies have shown that vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses have a safety profile similar to seasonal flu vaccines made to protect against three viruses, with similar—mostly mild—side effects. Hundreds of millions of people have safely gotten flu vaccines that protect against three flu viruses. Like all seasonal flu vaccines, vaccines that protect against four flu viruses will be monitored for their safety and effectiveness.

Q: Who can receive the quadrivalent flu vaccine?
A: There is a standard-dose quadrivalent shot that can be given to children as young as 6 months of age. Other standard-dose quadrivalent shots are approved for people 3 years and older. The standard-dose quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine is approved for healthy people 2 through 49 years of age.

Q: Who shouldn't get the quadrivalent flu vaccine?
A: Influenza vaccine is not approved for children younger than 6 months of age.

People who have had a severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine should generally not be vaccinated. There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:

  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with or without a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated), and
  • People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.


Q: Is the quadrivalent flu vaccine recommended over the trivalent flu vaccine?
A: No. CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another. This includes deciding between trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine or between injection (the flu shot) or nasal spray vaccine. The most important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the best options for you and your loved ones.

Q: What are cell-based flu vaccines?
A: ‘Cell-based’ refers to how the flu vaccine is made. Cell-based flu vaccines are made by growing viruses in animal cells. Cell-based flu vaccines are developed through a different manufacturing process than the traditional egg-based manufacturing process that is used to develop flu vaccines. Cell-based influenza vaccines are similar to the egg-based influenza vaccines, but a significant difference is that the influenza A and B viruses included in the cell-based vaccine are grown in cultured cells of mammalian origin instead of in hens' eggs.

Q: Why are cell-based flu vaccines being developed?
A: Cell-based flu vaccines are being developed as an alternative to the egg-based manufacturing process. Cell culture technology is potentially more flexible than the traditional technology, which relies upon adequate supply of eggs.

Q: What are the possible benefits of using cell-based influenza vaccines?
A: A major advantage of cell culture technology includes the potential for a faster start-up of the vaccine manufacturing process in the event of a pandemic. The cells used to manufacture Flucelvax are kept frozen and “banked.” Cell banking assures an adequate supply of cells is readily available for vaccine production. Growing the influenza viruses in cell culture for the manufacture of Flucelvax is not dependent on an egg supply.

Q: What were the results of the clinical trials using cell-based technology?
A: Clinical studies demonstrate that Flucelvax is safe and effective for use in individuals 18 years of age and older. General reactions to Flucelvax were typical of those seen with current influenza vaccines. Pain, redness, and soreness at the injection site; and headache and fatigue were the most common reactions.



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