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Flu vaccine is available and recommended.

Blereau reminds it is time for the flu vaccine

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article by local Centers for Disease Control Sentinel Physician Dr. Robert P. Blereau of Morgan City.
With the expectation of both the flu and coronavirus circulating this fall and winter the need to get the flu vaccine is more important than ever to prevent illness and death.
According to the CDC, between 30 and 59 million cases of the flu occurred in the United States this past flu season with 26 million medical office visits, 740,000 hospitalizations and 62,000 deaths.
The flu vaccine is the most preventative thing one can do to prevent flu illness and death and is usually 40-60% effective.
Since the start of the flu season is unpredictable the sooner you get the flu vaccine the better. It takes 2 weeks to develop protection.
From year to year there are usually different strains expected to circulate in the United States, not just one virus, necessitating a new flu vaccine to be formulated.
Most flu vaccines contain four flu virus strains — two type A and two type B.
The vaccine viruses are dead and cannot give one the flu after a shot.
A small percent of people develop flu-like symptoms which is a reaction to the shot material, but is not the flu and is still protective.
The flu shot is recommended yearly for ages 6 months and older unless one has contradictions.
Children 6 months through 8 years of age should receive two flu shots, 28 days or greater apart.
All pregnant women should receive the flu shot as soon as possible during the pregnancy, even the first trimester, because flu in pregnancy can be devastating, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
The live flu virus nasal vaccine is contraindicated in pregnancy, as are live vaccines in general.
A live flu virus nasal vaccine is available for those 2 through 49 years who do not have contraindications.
An egg-free flu vaccine is available for those with severe egg allergy including throat swelling and respiratory distress.
A high dose flu vaccine with four times the amount of dead virus to give more immunity is indicated for those 65 years and older.
The flu vaccines can be given with any other indicated vaccines, including pneumonia and tetanus.
A 15-minute seated or supine post vaccination observation period is recommended for all vaccines.
Side effects of the flu vaccine are mainly soreness of the arm at the injection site and fever, which are usually mild and resolve within hours to one day.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurologic muscle weakening condition, has occurred in less than two cases per million doses of flu vaccine.
Studies have shown the risk of Guillain-Barre Syndrome is higher after an infection, such as the flu, compared to getting the vaccine.
One with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks of receiving any type flu vaccine generally should not receive another flu vaccine unless they are at a higher risk of severe complications from the flu.
Consult your vaccine provider for the appropriate flu vaccine for you.

The flu vaccine is more important for certain groups of people who are at higher risk of medical complications, such as pneumonia and death.
Those at higher risk of complications from contracting the flu are:
—All children ages 6-59 months.
—All persons aged 50 years and older.
—Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (excluding isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus).
—Persons who are immunocompromised due to any cause (including but not limited to immunosuppression caused by medications or human immunodeficiency virus infection).
—Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season.
—Children and adolescents (ages 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving aspirin- or salicylate-containing medication and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection.
—Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
—American Indians/Alaska Natives.
—Persons who are extremely obese (body mass index greater than 40 for adults).

Anyone with contradictions to the live-virus nasal flu vaccine should not take it. They include:
—Severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or to a previous dose of any flu vaccine.
—Children and adolescents receiving concomitant aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications because of the potential risk of Reye syndrome.
—Children ages 2-4 years who have received a diagnosis of asthma or whose parents or caregivers report that a healthcare provider has told them during the past 12 months that their child had wheezing or asthma or whose medical record indicates a wheezing episode that occurred during the preceding 12 months
—Children and adults who are immunocompromised due to any cause, including but not limited to immunosuppression caused by medications, congenital or acquired immunodeficiency states, HIV infection, anatomic asplenia, or functional asplenia (such as that due to sickle cell anemia).
—Close contacts and caregivers of severely immunosuppressed persons who require a protected environment.
—Persons with active communication between the cerebrospinal fluid and the oropharynx, nasopharynx, nose or ears or any other cranial CSF leak.
—Persons with cochlear implants, because of the potential for CSF leak, which might exist for some period after implantation.
—Receipt of influenza antiviral medication the previous 48 hours for oseltamivir and zanamivir, previous 5 days for peramivir, and previous 17 days for baloxavir.
Precautions for use also include the following:
—Moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever.
—History of Guillain-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks of receipt of any influenza vaccine.
—Asthma in persons aged 5 years or older.
—Other underlying medical condition (other than those listed under contradictions) that might predispose to complications after wild-type influenza virus infection (e.g. chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular [except isolated hypertension], renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders [including diabetes mellitus]).


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