Last year, during the 2020-2021 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the lowest number of deaths linked to influenza since reporting began in 2005. These low numbers meant fewer flu-related illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths compared with previous seasons, which is news to our pandemic-ringing ears. The explanation for this decrease in influenza cases is linked to COVID-19 mitigation measures including increased handwashing, less travel and socializing and more mask wearing. All of these factors are important, but the CDC encourages us to not forget another important protective measure.
December 5-11 was National Flu Vaccine week, which serves as a reminder that the COVID vaccine isn’t the only shot in town.
What do we need to know about this year’s flu vaccine?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2021-2022 flu (influenza) vaccine has undergone a few changes and is still recommended, even during the COVID pandemic.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The composition of this year’s vaccine has been updated to include egg-based composition and cell or recombinant-based composition. You can read more about what this means here.
- All vaccines are designed to protect against four (4) different flu variants including influenza A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and two influenza B variants. Prior to this year, the vaccine was designed to protect against only one lineage of B virus.
- Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time, according to the CDC.
- The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older with exceptions including: people with severe and life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients (read more here) and people who have had severe reactions to flu vaccines in the past.
- If you have an allergy to eggs, speak with your doctor before getting the vaccine. Read here for more about egg allergies and the vaccine.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for many people 2-49 years of age. For restrictions and information on whether to get the spray or the shot, read here.
- If you don’t have a primary healthcare provider, you can get your vaccine in other places including pharmacies and health departments.
For more about the flu vaccine and CDC guidance, visit the CDC’s website.
As always, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal needs concerning the vaccine. Here’s to another healthy, low-number flu season!
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