A few things to know about flu season

Autumn Owens aowens@empiretribune.com Twitter @aowensETnews

It’s that time of year when folks will line up to receive their annual flu vaccinations to help defend against the illness. Here are some new things to know this season along with tips and other important information about the flu.

“I think everybody should have a flu shot,” said Dr. Kelly Doggett. “There are a lot of people who won’t because they say that in the past the shot gave them the flu. A flu shot will not give you the flu; it’s really not possible.”

This year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends only injectable flu shots stating that the nasal spray vaccine - live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) - is not recommended due to concerns about its effectiveness.

“Some kids can get a little fever and mild flu symptoms with the spray, but the CDC is saying that the spray is not effective and so they’re recommending we don’t use that this year,” Doggett said.

With the standard flu shot, a new vaccination called the intradermal influenza vaccination has been introduced.

“You can barely see the needle and it doesn’t go down into the muscle like the ones you usually see, which are about one-inch,” Doggett said. “When you get jabbed into the muscle, it’s painful, so these are just a lot less painful.”

The CDC adds that the intradermal shot requires less antigen, the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection, which in turn can allow for more doses of the vaccine.

Other options this season include:

• A high-dose shot for people ages 65 and older called Fluzone

• A shot made with adjuvant (an ingredient added to help create a stronger immune response) for people ages 65 and older called FLUAD.

• A cell-based flu vaccine

• A shot made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of the flu virus for ages 18 and older called Flublok

“There are many flu viruses and they are constantly changing. The composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating flu viruses,” the CDC website states. “Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common.”

In May of this year the FDA approved a quadrivalent vaccination that protects against four viruses (two influenza A and two influenza B viruses) for ages four years and older.

“Adding another B virus to the vaccine aims to give broader protection against circulating flu viruses,” the CDC site states about why the quadrivalent vaccine was developed. “There is no preference for one vaccine over another among the recommended, approved injectable vaccines. The most important thing is for all people six months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.”

Your doctor can help you decide which option to choose before getting your flu shot this year and more details can also be found by visiting www.cdc.gov/flu.

The most common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children).

The CDC recommends people receive their flu shot by the end of October, but that receiving a little later can still be beneficial.