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Understanding Flu Vaccines: Your Comprehensive Guide to Staying Healthy

September 7, 2023 / Liz Kaylor

Flu season is a recurring public health concern, but there’s a powerful tool at your disposal: the flu vaccine. Commonly known as “flu shots,” these vaccines provide protection against the most prevalent influenza viruses expected during the upcoming season. Whether you opt for the needle-administered shot or the convenient nasal spray, flu vaccines are your shield against the flu’s onslaught.

What’s New for the 2023-2024 Season

It’s worth noting that the composition of flu vaccines is updated annually to match the specific strains projected to circulate. This ensures you receive the most effective defense against the flu each season.

A Range of Options

In the United States, several manufacturers produce flu vaccines, resulting in multiple options for consumers. Among them are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine, and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. The diversity of choices allows you to find the one that best suits your needs.

Universal Vaccination Recommendation

A critical aspect of flu prevention is widespread vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long recommended that every individual aged six months and older in the United States receive a flu vaccine each season. This “universal” recommendation has been in place since the 2010-2011 flu season, with rare exceptions.

Protecting Those at Risk

Vaccination serves a dual purpose: not only does it safeguard you from the flu, but it also shields those who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications. This includes young children, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with certain medical conditions. For a comprehensive list of factors that increase the risk of flu-related complications, refer to the CDC’s guidelines.

Tailored Recommendations

Different flu vaccines are approved for specific age groups, and some vaccines may not be suitable for particular individuals. Factors influencing vaccination recommendations include age, overall health, past medical history, and any allergies to flu vaccine components. To determine the best vaccine for your situation, consult with your healthcare provider.

Preferred Options for Older Adults

For individuals aged 65 and older, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has identified three flu vaccines as preferential choices: Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine, and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. These vaccines were preferred over standard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines based on a review of studies indicating potential higher effectiveness in this age group. However, there is no preferential recommendation for individuals younger than 65.

When flu season approaches, remember that the flu vaccine is a vital tool for protecting yourself and those around you. Make an informed choice by discussing your options with your healthcare professional and ensuring you receive the appropriate vaccine for your age and health status. Together, we can reduce the impact of the flu and promote a healthier community.