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With flu cases already reported in September 2022, many health officials are recommending that everyone over six months of age get a flu shot this September and October to prepare for the coming flu season.
“It’s a perfectly good time for [people] to get vaccinated right now,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, MD, chair of the department of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai, Nassau South in New York.
He is also a hospital epidemiologist.
Michael Kinch, Ph.D., an immunologist and vaccine expert and dean of science and vice president at Long Island University in New York, told Fox News Digital, “Although the flu virus can cause a serious disease in all people – regardless of health and age – the elderly and people with weakened immunity are especially susceptible to it.
“It is important that people over the age of six months who have not previously had a serious allergic reaction get a flu shot every year.”
He added, “On average, 60,000 Americans die from the flu each year.”
Regarding this huge loss, he added that “most of [those losses] can be prevented by routine vaccination.”
Another expert spoke in the discussion.
Dr. Fred Davis, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Long Island, N.Y.-based Northwell Health told Fox News Digital that it sees several cases of the flu each year in the emergency room. Davis recommends people get a flu vaccine ideally by the end of October, before flu cases start to rise.
Davis also said, “It’s important that people over six months of age who have not had a previous serious allergic reaction get the flu shot every year.”
By getting an annual flu vaccine, people reduce the chance of serious complications from the flu virus.
Each year, the flu shot is designed to protect against the four most likely flu viruses expected to be most prevalent this year, Davis noted.
By getting an annual flu vaccine, he said people reduce the chance of serious complications from the flu virus.
“Those at higher risk [people older] over 65, those with certain chronic conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease), and those who are pregnant,” he said.
“The annual flu vaccine is especially important for these groups to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from the flu,” Davis told Fox News Digital.
While federal health officials recommend that most people six months of age and older get the flu vaccine each season, there are rare exceptions.
Some vaccines may not be suitable for certain individuals, health officials also said.
“Different flu vaccines are approved for different age groups,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes on its website.
There are standard doses of inactivated flu vaccines that are approved for children six months of age and older, the CDC noted; however, some vaccines are only approved for adults.
“Some people (such as pregnant people and people with certain chronic conditions) should not get some types of flu vaccine, and some people should not get flu vaccines at all (although this is rare).”
The CDC also said that different flu shots are approved for people of different ages — and that everyone should get the vaccine that’s appropriate for their age.
There are standard doses of inactivated flu vaccines approved for people six months of age and older, the agency noted; however, some vaccines are only approved for adults.
These include the recombinant influenza vaccine approved for people age 18 and older, and the adjuvanted and high-dose inactivated vaccine approved for people age 65 and older.
Three flu vaccines this year
Starting with the 2022-2023 flu season, the CDC said there are three flu vaccines recommended for people age 65 and older.
These vaccines are Fluzone high-dose quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant influenza vaccine, and Fluad quadrivalent adjuvanted vaccine.
Davis told Fox News Digital that people age 65 and older are recommended to get one of these shots because they are higher doses than other vaccines and higher doses are potentially more effective at fighting the flu for that age group.
The CDC notes that pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions can get a flu shot, as can people with egg allergies.
However, health experts also said it’s important for people to discuss their individual cases with their healthcare providers to see if the vaccine is right for them.
The CDC also says that in rare cases, some people should not get the flu shot.
Those who should no get the flu vaccine include children under six months of age and people with a “severe, life-threatening allergy to any ingredient in the flu vaccine (except egg white).”
The CDC said it’s important to talk to your health care providers before getting a flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a severe paralyzing disease.
The agency said it could include antibiotics, gelatin and other ingredients.
The CDC also said that people who have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past may not be able to get other flu vaccines.
It is very important to talk to your doctor or health care provider to see if vaccination is appropriate.
The CDC said it’s also important to talk to your health care providers before getting the flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a severe paralyzing disease, because some people with a history of GBS should not get the flu vaccine.
Also, if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of any other flu vaccine, discuss with your healthcare provider whether you should avoid the new flu vaccine this time.
“This year will definitely be more difficult than the last two flu seasons because society is opening up again — and people are wearing masks less and less.”
If you’re feeling unwell, talk to your doctor about your symptoms first to see if it’s a good time for a flu vaccine, the CDC also noted.
Nasal spray vs. injection: what you need to know
When it comes to the nasal vs. injectable flu vaccine, health experts told Fox News Digital that it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether this type of vaccine is right for you — as there are several scenarios in which it’s contraindicated and in which a shot would be safer.
“The nasal spray is a live attenuated vaccine, meaning it’s a weakened but live flu virus,” said Dr. Ken Zweig, MD, a primary care physician at Northern Virginia Family Practice in Arlington, Virginia.
“This will not cause problems for patients, but could potentially lead to influenza infection in those who are pregnant, immunocompromised or very young – under two years old,” he also said.
Zweig is an assistant professor of medicine at the Georgetown University and George Washington University schools of medicine in Washington, D.C., Fox News Digital reported.
Zweig added, “There are other less common reasons not to use the nasal spray, so anyone considering it should check with their doctor first.”
Zweig also told Fox News Digital, “This year is definitely going to be more difficult than the last two flu seasons because society is opening up again — and people are wearing masks less and less.”
“A lot of people are feeling vaccine fatigue from all the COVID shots — and more babies and toddlers have never seen the flu … so they likely don’t have any immunity.”
Zweig hopes that the chance of the flu virus spreading will decrease as COVID is still on people’s minds and many people are still exercising caution.
“Most people are still less likely to go to work or see friends when they have cold symptoms, so I think there will be less chance of the flu spreading than it was before COVID,” he said.
However, Zweig remains concerned.
“A lot of people are feeling vaccine fatigue from all the COVID shots — and more babies and toddlers have never seen the flu because the last two seasons have been so mild, so they probably don’t have any immunity. The best way to ensure a milder flu season is to vaccinate as many people as possible, so be sure to get vaccinated.”
Glatt also told Fox News Digital, “Influenza remains a very serious disease that we must eradicate, and the best way to prevent a very serious illness from influenza is vaccination.”