Don’t Get the Flu Shot Now!
Some physicians have wondered if they delay giving the seasonal flu shot to their patients now, even though the vaccine is available. They are concerned that if patients are vaccinated too early, that the immunity may decline leaving these patients vulnerable when the flu season begins in February – March 2010. This would be of particular concern if elderly patients could not maintain their immunity until flu season strikes, as this group is at high risk of severe flu complications.
The CDC, our nation’s most authoritative voice on medical prevention, advises physicians to administer seasonal influenza vaccines now. While it is true that levels of flu antibody after vaccination do decline months after a flu shot, this does not mean that the individual is no longer protected. Flu and vaccine experts believe that an early flu shot will protect people for the entire flu season. In addition, if a physician is seeing a patient now, administering the flu shot guarantees that this individual has been vaccinated, rather than hope that the patient returns in a month or two when flu vaccines are typically given.
Flu shots are not perfect. When pharmaceutical companies manufacture them each year, they do not know in advance which strain of flu will be arriving. Epidemiologists, who study disease trends and outbreaks, try to predict which flu strains will hit us. This is a frustrating cat and mouse vaccine game. Sometimes, the epidemiologists win and sometime the flu virus prevails.
The seasonal flu vaccine is currently recommended to:
o Children 6 months-18 years old
o Adults older than 50
o Pregnant women
o People with underlying medical conditions
o Health care workers
Don’t delay the flu shot. Get it now. Of course, the seasonal flu shot will not protect you against the ‘swine flu’ H1N1 virus. In other words, you’ll be rolling up your sleeve again in a month or two.