Sunday, October 22, 2006

Time for Flu Shots

It's the time of year to start rolling up your sleeves for the flu vaccine shot.
The flu season hits the northern hemisphere between October to May. In the southern hemisphere it's the other half of the year, and in the tropics, the flu season is present year round. "Annual immunization against influenza A and B is the most effective method of preventing infection".

Who should get a flu shot?
Generally, those wanting to reduce their chance of getting sick. It's especially recommended for the following high-risk groups:
- People aged 50 and older.
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season.
- Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart, or lung conditions including asthma, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system such as with HIV or with medications, and any kind of brain or spinal cord disorders.
- Children 6 months to 18 years who are on long term aspirin therapy.
- All the contacts of people in these high-risk groups.
- All children 6-23 months was the recommendation in the past. This year the U.S. Advisory committee on Immunization Practices has broadened the age group to include all children 6-59 months, their household contacts and out-of-home care givers as well.

Who shouldn't get one?
- People with severe allergy to eggs.
- People who currently have a fever.
- Children less than 6 months old.
- People who have had Guillane Barre syndrome (a paralytic condition) within 6 weeks of getting a flu shot in the past.

When is the best time to get one?
It's optimal to get a shot in October or November (especially for the high-risk groups noted above), but you can also benefit in December or later.

What types of vaccines are there?
- A flu shot, (Fluvirin, Fluzone, Fluarix), is made from an inactivated vaccine, which contrary to popular belief cannot give you the flu.
- A flu nasal spray, (Flumist), is made from an attenuated live vaccine. Because this can theoretically cause transmission of the flu, it should only be given to healthy people ages 5-49 who are not pregnant, not healthcare workers, or contacts of anyone who is immuno-suppressed.

How soon will the vaccine take effect?
Effectiveness occurs within 2 weeks, the shot is fully effective, and usually the effect lasts for 6 months or longer. A protection rate of 50-80 percent is the norm.

Where is the flu vaccine given?
Other than your doctor's office, try Flu Clinic Locator to see where you might be able to get a shot.

References: The Medical Letter, Vol 48, Oct. 9, 2006. MMWR, Vol 55, July 28, 2006.


Enoch Choi said...

If only you could find them!

I've blogged on the delay in delivery of standard vaccine and the pediatric Fluzone.

Blu~ said...

I have only had the flu once in my life, so they say that's what it was. I have never had a flu shot, imagine that...Should I be concerned...?

Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Hi Blu-

I cannot give advice to individuals without examining them, but I can say that in general, the flu shot is recommended especially for any one who falls in a high risk category such as someone with asthma or diabetes. I give it to everyone in my family and ofcourse to all of my patients who allow me to do so.

Guy Barry said...

I find it hard to believe that someone has only had flu oncein their life.I have had it every year except those years I had a flu jab.
flu jab

Mike said...

I would say this is the time flu shot should taken those of individual who needs them. It already started, but I think late january is the best time to take flu shot due to it's availability
this year and next year.

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Anonymous said...

Hi, Dr Razavi, first time I've looked at your blog, I was looking for information on the google coop and blogger.

I was wondering whether one has to accept the google adsense? And as an aside does the content of the ads concern you as a medical doctor? For example when I looked at your page, there were ads for homeopathic remedies.


Mike said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

Google adsense serve ads based on website contents. Actually blogs, forums are great for the program. Many people have different point of view. Discussion, comments are used mainly on blogs or forums. People bring many situation or point to proof their point. I am sure It was somewhere written about homeopathic remedies somewhere in the page. So, when google sees the content, it serves ads about that content, in here about homeopathic remedies

Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Hi Coracle

We debated the adsense issue when I started the blog. It does not have to be accepted. Over all the decision was that there were more pros than cons with the ads as they provided some useful information for the consumer. I do have to monitor them though, but it's difficult given the time constraints. I have had to block 2 ads. I may be an optimist, but I think that when presented with all sides of an issue people tend to make the decision that is right for them.

Anonymous said...


I am six weeks pregnant and never had a flu shot, is it advisable to get a flu shot now?

Anonymous said...

I don't get the flu shot because the effectiveness is minimal. Do you have information as to why it's not effective?

For example, below is a link that says it could take 1-2 years to decide what is in the shot. To me, that means they are guessing what could be the flu 2 years from now.

Also, I read somewhere (not sure if it is true) that the flu shot will cover 5-6 types. It also contains anti-freeze. I hope this is not true.


Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season are recommended to get the flu shot and in fact they are considered high priority in getting the vaccine. Please contact your doctor if you have any questions.

Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Antifreeze, you have come across some misinformation.
The flu shot is acutally at least 80% effective. I get the flu shot every year, and I see hundreds of people with the flu every season, and the main reason I don't get the flu is probably because of the protection I get from the flu shot.
I have included some links in the post that hopefully explain the process better.

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Brian said...

I have had the flu only once in my life too and it was so bad it about killed me I think. I remember that year they was saying that there was a flu out that wasn't like the "normal" flu and killed a lot of people. I can be around people with the flu and never get it but the year I did wasn't like any flu I have ever seen. I think they might have even called it the "super flu".

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