What you need to know
For many people, August may be spent outdoors enjoying long sunlit days, sneaking in one final summer vacation, or shopping for back-to-school essentials. The thought of influenza and the annual preventive vaccine is likely not on many late summer to-do lists. However, the influenza vaccine is currently being stocked in outpatient clinical practices, pharmacy clinics, and hospitals nationwide. Experts advise that it is better to receive the flu vaccine early in the season as it takes up to two weeks for maximum effectiveness. All persons aged six months and older are encouraged to receive the flu vaccine by the end of October for full coverage during peak flu season. This is especially important for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons who are immunocompromised. If the ideal window for receiving the vaccine is missed, it is still recommended to get vaccinated anytime during the flu season through March.
There are a variety of flu vaccine options available, including the inactivated standard-dose injection, a high-dose influenza vaccine for persons aged 65 and older, a needle-free jet injector, an intradermal delivery system, an egg-free option for egg allergy sufferers, and live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) (nasal spray). Over the past two flu seasons providers have advised against taking the LAIV as it was determined to be less effective than the traditional injection. During the 2018-2019 flu season the LAIV is approved for prevention of influenza, although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that pediatric patients receive the standard-dose injection for maximum protection against the flu. The LAIV is available for use in persons aged two years and older, but should not be given to anyone with immunocompromised status, or those who are pregnant.
Read more about influenza vaccination:
Goodman and Gilman’s the Therapeutic Basis of Therapeutics: Chapter 36. Immune Globulins and Vaccines > Influenza Virus Vaccines
CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment Pediatrics: Chapter 10. Immunization
Hazzard’s Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology: Chapter 13. Prevention and Screening > Influenza Vaccination
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Update: ACIP Recommendations for the Use of Quadrivalent Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV4) — United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season