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With cases of flu having been reported as early as September 2022, many health authorities are recommending that everyone six months of age and older get the flu shot in September and October this year to prepare for the upcoming flu season.
“It’s an absolutely good time for [people] to get the shot right now,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, MD, Chair of the Medical Department and Chief of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Mount Sinai South Nassau in New York.
He is also a hospital epidemiologist.
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Michael Kinch, Ph.D., an immunologist and vaccines expert and dean of science and vice president at Long Island University in New York, told Fox News Digital, “While the influenza virus can cause serious illness in anyone — regardless of health or Old age – older and immunocompromised people are particularly susceptible” to it.
“It’s important that people aged six months and older who have not had a severe allergic reaction get their flu shot every year.”
He added, “In an average year, 60,000 Americans die from the flu.”
Referring to this tremendous loss of life, he added that “most [those losses] can be prevented by routine vaccination.”
Another expert joined the discussion.
dr Fred Davis, Associate Chair of Emergency Medicine Northwell Health in Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital that it sees a number of flu cases in emergency rooms each year. Davis recommends that people ideally get a flu vaccine before the end of October — before flu cases start to rise.
Davis also said, “It’s important that those individuals six months and older who have not had a previous severe allergic reaction get their flu shot every year.”
By getting the flu shot every year, people reduce the likelihood of serious complications from the influenza virus.
Each year, the flu shot is formulated to protect against the four most likely influenza viruses that are expected to be most prevalent that year, Davis noted.
By getting the flu shot every year, people reduce the likelihood of serious complications from the influenza virus, he said.
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“The more vulnerable ones are [people older] over the age of 65, people with certain chronic medical 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 in these groups to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from influenza,” Davis told Fox News Digital.
While federal health officials recommend that most individuals six months of age and older get a flu shot each season, there are rare exceptions when it is not appropriate.
Some vaccines may not be suitable for certain people, health officials also said.
“Different influenza vaccines are approved for different age groups,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes on its website.
There are standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines that are approved for people as young as six months of age, the CDC found; However, some vaccines are only approved for adults.
“Some people (e.g., pregnant women and people with some chronic health conditions) should not get some types of flu vaccine, and some people shouldn’t get any flu vaccine at all (although this is uncommon).”
The CDC also said different flu shots are approved for people of different ages — and that everyone should get an age-appropriate vaccine.
There are standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines approved for people as young as six months of age, the agency noted; However, some vaccines are only approved for adults.
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These include the recombinant influenza vaccine, which is approved for people 18 and older, and the adjuvant and high-dose inactivated vaccines, which are approved for people 65 and older.
Three flu shots this year
Beginning with the 2022-2023 flu season, there are three flu vaccines recommended for people age 65 and older, according to the CDC.
These vaccines are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalente recombinant influenza vaccine, and Fluad Quadrivalente adjuvanted influenza vaccine.
Davis told Fox News Digital it’s recommended that people aged 65 and older get one of these shots because they’re higher doses than the other vaccines — and the higher doses may be more effective at fighting the flu for that age group.
The CDC advises that pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions, as well as people with an egg allergy, can get the flu shot.
But 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 states that there are rare circumstances when certain people should not get the flu shot.
The ones that should Not Getting the flu vaccine includes children under the age of six months and people with “severe, life-threatening allergies to an ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins).”
The CDC said it’s important to talk to healthcare providers before getting a flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a serious debilitating illness.
The agency said this could include antibiotics, gelatin and other ingredients.
The CDC also said people who have had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past may not be able to get other flu vaccines.
It’s important to speak to a doctor or healthcare provider to see if vaccination is appropriate.
The CDC said it’s also important to talk to healthcare providers before getting a flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a serious debilitating illness — because some people with a history of GBS shouldn’t get flu shots .
Also, if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of another flu vaccine, discuss with a doctor whether you should skip a new flu vaccine this time.
“This year will definitely be tougher than the last two flu seasons because society is opening up again – and people are wearing less and less masks.”
If you’re not feeling well, talk to a doctor about your symptoms first — to see whether or not it’s a good time to get a flu shot, the CDC also advised.
Nasal Spray vs. Injection: What You Should Know
When it comes to the nasal spray vs. injection flu vaccine, health experts told Fox News Digital that it’s important to talk to your doctor to see if this type of vaccine is appropriate — as there are several scenarios where it’s contraindicated and where vaccination 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, primary care physician at the Northern Virginia Family Practice in Arlington, Virginia.
“It won’t cause a problem in health patients, but it could potentially lead to influenza infection in pregnant, immunocompromised, or very young – less than two years old,” he said.
Zweig is an assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University and George Washington University Medical School in Washington, DC
Zweig added, “There are other, less common reasons for not getting the nasal spray, so anyone considering it should consult their doctor first.”
Zweig also told Fox News Digital, “This year is definitely going to be tougher than the last two flu seasons because society is opening up again – and people are wearing less and less masks.”
“A lot of people have vaccine fatigue from all the COVID shots — and more infants and young children have never seen the flu… so they probably don’t have immunity.”
As COVID is still on people’s minds and many people are exercising caution, Zweig is confident that the chances of spreading the flu virus are decreasing.
“Most people are still less likely to go to work or meet up with friends when they have cold symptoms, so I think the likelihood of spreading the flu will be lower than it was before COVID,” he said.
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Still, Zweig is concerned.
“A lot of people have vaccine fatigue from all the COVID shots — and more infants and young children have never seen the flu because the last two seasons have been so mild they probably don’t have immunity,” he said.
“The best way to ensure a milder flu season is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, so be sure to get vaccinated.”
Glatt told Fox News Digital, “Influenza remains a very serious disease that we must eradicate – and the best way to prevent very serious influenza is through vaccination.”