Flu Vaccination: Who, What, When, Where, Why & How
The flu vaccine is effective, but only if you get it.
It works even better when everyone gets it.
Who needs the flu vaccine? You and everyone over the age of six months unless other health problems mean that a few people cannot get the vaccine.
What are the options? The standard flu vaccine is quadrivalent meaning it is designed to fight four strains of the flu. Most people will get this one. There is a high dose quadrivalent vaccine for people who are 65 years young or older than 65 that covers them for all four strains now too. Another version of quadrivalent vaccine is specific for people who are allergic to eggs but they can use any formula this year. As it turns out, the egg-free formula is the one to use if there is a question about an adverse reaction to a flu shot in the past.
Finally, for people who do not want to get a shot, there is one that is given as a nasal spray. It is quadrivalent also and although it does not generate immunity as strong as the others, it is better than none at all.
When is the best time for the vaccine? 1) During September or by the end of October for this 2020-2021 flu season and even later like through March of next year. 2) When you have access to the flu shot is a great time to get it. Let’s say you are going to the doctor or to the pharmacy for something else: Get your flu shot too. Vaccinate, don’t procrastinate.
Where are flu shots given? At the clinics affiliated with Forks Community Hospital: Bogachiel Clinic, Clallam Bay Medical Clinic, and Forks Family Medical Clinic, Chinook Pharmacy at other immunizing providers or at the pharmacy. If some routine immunizations were missed in the last several months due to COVID-19 restrictions, this is a good time to get those too.
Why should anyone get the flu vaccine? This is one great example where helping others actually helps you too. Believe it or not, by getting a flu shot, you help create immunity in the community that provides coverage to someone who cannot get the shot. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
How can the flu be treated if someone gets it? Unpleasant though it may be, most people recover from the flu on their own. There are some prescription drugs that can treat some strains of the flu virus if treatment is started within 48-72 hours of the start of symptoms. At this time the DOH is recommending we reserve these medications for hospital inpatients.
The flu hurts everyone, especially if COVID-19 is involved, the “Twindemic” that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is tracking.
Last question for this time: Is it a cold or the flu? More to come next time.
By Janet Schade, MS, RPh
Director of Pharmacy
Forks Community Hospital
Disclaimer: This column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.