This Year's Flu Shot: What You Need to Know

CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine even if it's not a 'good' match

(RxWiki News) You might have heard that this season's flu vaccine may not be as effective as expected, but that doesn't change the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations for vaccination.

This recent discovery has led to many questions, which are to be expected. For answers to some common questions about this season's flu vaccine, read on.

What does it mean for there to be a 'good' match between circulating influenza viruses and viruses in the vaccine?

A good match is when the circulating viruses during a given influenza season and viruses in the vaccine are closely related, and, as a result, the antibodies your body produces after getting the flu vaccine protect against infection, according to the CDC.

When one or more of the circulating viruses is different from the vaccine viruses, the vaccine's effectiveness may decrease. Flu viruses are constantly changing, which is why the vaccine sometimes isn't a "good" match for the circulating viruses.

Should I still get a flu vaccine if the vaccine isn't a 'good' match?

The CDC continues to encourage people to receive a flu vaccine during seasons when there is a less-than-optimal match — for multiple reasons:

1. This is particularly important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, as well as their close contacts. Those at higher risk for complications related to flu infections include those who are 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and those with certain chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease.

2. There are multiple benefits to receiving the flu vaccination:

  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, especially for those with chronic health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
  • The flu vaccine can help protect women during and after pregnancy, as well as provide protection for the baby after birth.
  • Vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza, according to a recent study.
  • If you do get sick, vaccination can also make your flu less severe.
  • Flu vaccination can also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.

How do I know if I have the flu?

The flu, also known as influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Flu symptoms differ from the symptoms of a cold.

Generally, if you have the flu, the symptoms come on suddenly. Those with the flu may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills (not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (only in some people, and these symptoms are more common in children than adults)

Speak with your health care provider about protecting yourself and your family from the flu.

Written By Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS