What Type Of Flu Vaccine Is Best For Seniors

With flu season upon us, it is recommended that everyone six months and older receive their annual influenza (flu) vaccine.  This is especially true for senior citizens as they are at a greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu. While there is no debate over whether or not seniors should get their flu shot, there is one about what type of vaccine they should receive.

Many providers are now recommending that patients over the age of 65 receive the vaccine Fluzone, a higher dose injectable vaccine formulated specially for seniors.  Like other flu vaccines, Fluzone is comprised of three different strains of the influenza virus that are most likely to cause the flu during the upcoming season.  However, Fluzone contains four times the amount of antigen (the inactivated virus that promotes a protective immune response) as a regular flu vaccine and produces a stronger immune response.

This high-dose vaccine was created specifically for seniors because their immune defenses are weakened due to their age. It is estimated that approximately 75% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 50% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.

The results of seniors who have taken high-dose vaccines are promising. Initial studies have indicated that 25% fewer cases of influenza occurred in adults 65 years or older who took the high-dose vaccine compared with those who took the standard-dose vaccine, but other studies also revealed that seniors who received the high-dose vaccine were more likely to develop side effects, such as a fever and soreness at the injection site, during the week after vaccination.

If you are over 65 years old and still haven’t received your flu vaccine this year, speak to your doctor about whether or not a high-dose vaccine is right for you.

If you would like to make an appointment with a doctor t Flushing Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.

Flu In Infants

Flu Vaccine for Babies

Children under the age of five years old, especially those who are six months and younger, are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu.

Every year, thousands of children under the age of five are hospitalized as a result of the flu, and some die when they become seriously ill.

The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in children is to get them vaccinated. The flu vaccine is safe for infants to receive, and contrary to what some may believe, a person will not get the flu as a result of vaccination. 

Infants can be vaccinated against the flu starting at six months. Two doses given at least four weeks apart are recommended for children ages six months through eight years old receiving the flu vaccine for the first time. An annual flu shot will be sufficient for the following years.

Protecting infants under the age of six months from the flu can be challenging as they are too young to receive a vaccination. Since vaccines aren’t available for these infants, parents must take other precautions to protect them. Here are a few recommendations:

  • If you are pregnant, you should receive the flu shot. The vaccine can protect babies for several months after birth.
  • Make certain those in contact with your child are vaccinated. This helps to reduce the risk of exposure.
  • Avoid getting sick by staying away from those who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Wash your hands regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Recognize the danger signs and seek medical help if you notice your infant experiencing:
    • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
    • Ribs pulling in with breathing
    • Decreased eating and urinating, no tears when crying
    • High fever greater than 102 F
    • Decreased alertness or interaction

It is very important for infants to receive treatment for these symptoms early.   Medication is most effective when treating those experiencing symptoms for less than two days.  Based on your doctor’s recommendation medication can also be given to children exposed to the flu but have not displayed symptoms.

If you have questions about the flu and vaccination in children and would like to schedule an appointment with a Family Medicine doctor, please call 718- 206-6942.

Author: Dr. Angela Boey; Family Medicine Physician

Flu Season Precautions

We are in the month of December and cases of flu are being reported by physician’s offices and hospital emergency rooms.  None of us want to catch the flu so it is a good idea to take some preventative measures that can help us to stay healthy.

Here are a few of the ways we can prevent getting the flu:

• Everyone who is six months of age and older should get the vaccine every year
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
• Keep a hand sanitizer handy for the times soap and water are not available.
• Avoid touching your hands to your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Whenever possible, disinfect surfaces that are frequently used by others such as tables and chairs.
• Clean your drinking glasses and dishes in hot water and with soap
• Keep your immune system healthy by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep every night
• Tobacco can suppress the immune system, so it is highly recommended to quit smoking.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center to discuss the flu vaccine and other ways to stay healthy, please call 718-206-7001.

When is the Best Time to Get a Flu Vaccine ?

Flu season can start in September and run until May. Even before the summer is over, pharmacies start advertising that the flu vaccine is available. While many people believe that the best time to get a flu vaccine is as soon as possible, getting it in October probably is the best option. Some research has shown that the effects of the vaccine start to wear off after six months so we want to make sure we are well protected when the height of the flu season is upon us.

Every year the flu vaccine is different, manufactured with the hope that it will be effective against the prevalent strain expected for that year. It is estimated that it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so being covered early is important. Everyone who is going to be vaccinated wants to be prepared before the peak of the flu season which runs from December to late March. If you would to schedule an appointment for a flu vaccine in the Ambulatory Care Center please call 718-206-7001.

 

Why It’s Important For Your Child To Get The Flu Shot This Year

Flu season is coming and once again, many parents wonder if they should get their children vaccinated. Below is some information about the flu vaccine that parents should know.

Vaccination

The flu is more serious than the common cold for kids. Young children often require medical care after getting the flu. In fact, each year, an average of 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized due to complications from the flu, and for some, the illness can even result in death.

The best way to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all children six months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. Ideally, the best time to get the flu vaccine is as soon as it becomes available as it usually takes up to two weeks before your child is fully protected.

Flu shots can be administered either by injection or by a nasal spray. The nasal spray flu vaccine can be given to children between two and eight years old. Side effects can include runny nose, cough, fever, wheezing, and head or muscle aches. The flu shot can be given to children ages six months and over. Side effects of the flu shot include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site or a low-grade fever.

Children under six months old are too young to be vaccinated. The best defense for them is to make sure those around them are vaccinated.

Some children who get the flu shot may require two doses. If your child is under nine years old and has never gotten the shot before, two separate doses will be necessary. These doses must be administered at least four weeks apart.  If your child has gotten the seasonal flu vaccine before or is over nine years old, only one dose is required.

Please speak with your pediatrician before getting your child vaccinated if:

  • If your child isn’t feeling well
  • If your child recently had other vaccines
  • If your child has any medical conditions
  • If your child is allergic to eggs
  • If your child had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine

Please call your pediatrician now to schedule you child’s flu shot. If you do not have a pediatrician, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Pediatric Clinic at 718-206-7001 to make an appointment with one of our qualified pediatric specialists.