Friday, August 19, 2016

What to expect from the 2016/17 flu vaccine

Here is everything that you need to know about the Flu Vaccine for the upcoming 2016/2017 season:

Some flu seasons can be deadly and very frightening. See the info-graphic below.
It is recommended that all children over the age of 6 months get the flu protection. If you have an infant under 6 months of age, please consider getting the flu shot for yourselves.

All children under the age of nine, who are getting the flu vaccine for the very first time should receive two doses of the vaccine in order to be considered fully protected. The two doses need to be separated by at least four weeks. If they have ever had more than two previous doses of any flu vaccine, they only need one this year.

Children under the age of three get half of the adult dose. The nasal flu mist is not available this year. Studies indicated that it wasn’t effective last year. Truthfully I didn't see any evidence that it was any better or worse than the shot, but so it goes. Every year the disease trackers do the best they can to predict which strains of the virus will circulate and try to match the flu vaccine to the anticipated strain. Usually the vaccine differs from year to year, although there have been some seasons recently where it was unchanged.

Some years have better matches than others. On March 4, 2016, the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted overwhelmingly to recommend the influenza strains proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the northern hemisphere Flu vaccine for the 2016/­2017 season. The selection resulted in 2 of the strains being changed in the trivalent vaccines and 1 strain for the quadrivalent.

Our office will again be supplied with the quadrivalent vaccine that covers two A strains and two B strains. All of the Flu vaccine in our office is preservative free. For any of you interested, the strains in the quadrivalent vaccine for the 2016/17 season are:

● A/California/7/2009(H1N1)pdm09­like virus;
● A/Hong Kong/4801/2014(H3N2)­like virus;
● B/Brisbane/60/2008­like virus.
● B/Phuket/3073/2013­like virus. (only in the quadrivalent)

We don’t carry the trivalent in our office. The trivalent covers only only 1 of the B strains.
You never know if that extra B strain is going to be an important player or not so try to get the quadrivalent if you have an option.

Last season the flu was fairly late. We didn’t start to see it in earnest until mid February.
Plenty of people did get the flu and had a miserable week, but no one in our practice had any severe complications. The folks who had the flu shot did not seem to be quite as ill, but there were some vaccine failures (myself included!)

Since we never really know when the flu season will start with a vengeance, getting your child vaccinated early in the season is your best bet. As soon as they turn 6 months old we can get them started with their first dose. Because we don’t have experience with this particular flu vaccine, I don’t have a sense of what kinds of reactions to expect. We don’t generally see any major reactions but every year it is different. Last year some of our patients did seem to have low grade fevers for a day or two, but for the most part the vaccine was tolerated very well. If your child has a sensitivity to egg, it is okay to give the shot, but we want to be cautious. I would recommend that you keep the patient hanging around the office for at least half an hour or so to make sure they aren’t having any issues. Please advise the nursing staff if you have any concerns.

I have been giving flu shots for almost 30 years and in that time I have only seen ONE patient with an allergic reaction to the vaccine (and that patient has no history of egg intolerance, so you just never know.) This patient left the office and started complaining about an itchy feeling throat. Mom brought him right back in and he got a dose of epinephrine. I am sharing that as a reminder that it is important to keep a close eye on your child for at least 30 minutes after the shot. If they seem to be having any breathing issues or exceptional fussiness they should get checked out immediately.

For the last several seasons we had some frustrating delays early in the season obtaining the flu shots but we did ultimately end up with adequate supplies. It currently looks like we will be getting some early shipments of the flu shots in mid August/September. This is the first year in quite a while where the Flu mist will not be available. As soon as I heard the first hint of an issue, I was able to increase my order for the shots. I anticipate that we again will have plenty of vaccine available for our patients but there are never absolute guarantees.We might not be able to be as generous taking care of parents and nannies, but your kids will get their shots.

I will update vaccine supply and any info about the clinic dates in my weekly emails and also on our Facebook page. I will also let you know what type of reactions I am seeing, and what the actual flu looks like when it starts knocking on the door this season.
Click below for the 2016 Flu Vaccine information statements from the CDC

1 comment:

  1. I hate how global warming is affecting the seasons. It’s become hard to predict when you should get your kids and yourself vaccinated. That's why every year I'm either anxiously contacting my family doctor or looking for other parents around me who got their kids to the clinic. Reading this is really helpful.

    Leonardo @ US Health Works