With the fall season well underway, people of all ages are urged to receive their flu vaccinations before the cold and flu season soon kicks into high gear. Daniel Hussar
, PhD, Remington Professor of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences, said individuals as young as six months old benefit most from the vaccination when given in the fall because their bodies have time to build up immunity to last an entire flu season – which typically runs through May.
“When the flu comes, it’s never at a convenient time,” said Dr. Hussar. “While everyone should get a flu vaccine this season, it’s especially important for infants, children, pregnant women, and seniors because they are most vulnerable to developing serious complications – like pneumonia – if they catch the flu.”
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that getting a flu shot reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalization by 71.4 percent for all adults and 76.8 percent for those over age 50 during the 2011-12 flu season. The CDC estimates deaths associated with the flu number between 3,000 and 49,000 people each year.
Dr. Hussar compiled a list of key facts people need to know regarding flu immunizations:
- Pregnant women are safe. Pregnancy should not be a restriction to receiving a flu shot as it protects the mother and her baby for several months into its life.
- It’s never too late. While people are encouraged to receive their flu shots in early fall, the immunization still provides benefits to individuals who wait until December or January to get vaccinated.
- Healthy children need protection. Between 2004 and 2012, flu complications killed 830 children in the U.S., many of whom were otherwise healthy, according to the CDC.
- Convenient locations. Most Pennsylvania pharmacies house a certified pharmacist who is authorized to administer flu shots to individuals older than 18. Anyone under the age of 18 is encouraged to receive vaccinations through their pediatricians or community health clinics.
- ‘Flu caused by vaccination’ myth. The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit infection. That means people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway, they just assume the shot caused their illness.
- Nasal spray an option. The nasal spray vaccine – or the live, attenuated influenza vaccine – is commonly known by its trade name, FluMist, and offers protection to healthy adults from 2 to 49 years old who are not pregnant. FluMist contains a live but weakened flu virus that cannot cause flu illness.
“The influenza virus is contagious and is known to circulate through college campuses, enhanced by close living quarters, typical social activities, and low vaccine coverage,” said Dr. Hussar, noting the importance of vaccinations among students of all ages.
Dr. Hussar has written and spoken extensively on the topics of drug interactions, patient compliance, and new drugs. He has been used as a resource for numerous print, broadcast, and web stories as an expert.