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What’s New with the Flu Shot?

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Influenza vaccination is the single most important way to prevent the flu virus and its potentially life-threatening complications. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine each year. 

Special Guidelines for Children

Children under age 9 who have not had the vaccine previously, or who have only ever had one dose previously, should receive a two-dose series, with each dose being at least 28 days apart.

During the 2019-20 flu season, 188 children died as a result of complications from the flu. About 80 percent of these children had not been vaccinated, and many cases occurred in previously healthy children.   

As this data indicates, flu complications are not limited to people with other chronic health conditions. An increased risk of complications has been noted in children under age 2, pregnant women, and seniors. 

Which Flu Vaccine Is Best?

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children and adults get vaccinated with any available product for which they are eligible. Children and adults ages 2-49 years who are otherwise healthy can discuss with their provider if they can get the nasal vaccine, FluMist.  

Should Seniors Get the High-Dose Flu Vaccine?

A high-dose flu vaccine is an option for seniors. Current data, however, does not indicate the high-dose vaccine is more effective than the regular injectable flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.

Can the Flu Shot Cause the Flu?

The flu vaccine does not and cannot cause the flu. This is also true of the nasal vaccine which is safe and does not cause flu in those who receive it or are in contact with recipients—as long as patients are not in protected environments, such as bone marrow transplant units.

On occasion the vaccine causes an immune response that can result headache, body aches, or fever that is mistaken for influenza. It is not. Although flu vaccine recipients may still get the flu, their illness is likely to be less severe.

What Are the Symptoms of Flu?

Influenza is characterized by a specific set of symptoms, including the sudden onset of high fever, chills, sore throat, cough, body aches and headache. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza. A stomach bug is not “the flu.” The flu vaccine also does not prevent the common cold or any other viral infection.

Should People With a Cold or Egg Allergy Avoid the Vaccine?

If you have a mild illness, such as cold symptoms, sore throat, low-grade fever or are taking antibiotics, you can still get vaccinated.

Most people who have a documented egg allergy can still be vaccinated and do not require any period of observation after receiving the vaccine. Egg-free recombinant vaccine products are available for those 18 years and older. Talk with an your health care provider  to understand your best options.

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Jennifer S. Ammons, MD

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics. Dr. Ammons is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed her residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Her special areas of interest include child safety, infectious diseases, and immunizations.

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About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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