The flu season is here, and there is a need for everyone to be aware of the flu vaccine and treatment available. If you are not sure whether you should get the flu shot, learn about the benefits and how the vaccine works below. Influenza is an illness that can result in hospitalization or even death. Flu seasons are different, and people are affected differently. Millions of people get flu every season, some get hospitalized, and in some cases, others die. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends an annual flu vaccine for all people of age six months and above.
Studies indicate that flu vaccination reduces the chances of acquiring the flu, hospitalization, and health complications if you get the flu. Also, among people who get hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients are less likely to be admitted to the ICU. Flu vaccines cause the body to develop antibodies two weeks after the vaccination. The antibodies protect against infection. The seasonal vaccine protects against; influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus, and influenza B virus.
The CDC recommends the use of licensed and age-appropriate flu vaccine such as recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV4), inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4). CDC has no preference of any vaccine over the other. It is essential for people at risk for complications from influenza to get vaccinated. A person’s suitability for particular flu vaccination is determined by factors such as a person’s health (past and current), age and allergies to the flu vaccine.
There are different vaccines for Americans to choose from but most people are not aware as they leave it to hospitals and pharmacies to decide. A high-dose vaccine for elderly and approved formulations for babies and children are available. Medical centres such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have agreed to use Flucelvax and Flublok.
Evidence shows that the two formulations would work better than the older vaccines. Flucelvax is approved for people aged six months and older whereas, Flublok a recombinant formulation is for adults 18 years and older.
UPMC will offer Flucelvax and Flublok to all patients age 4 and above in 2018-2019 flu season and also to all employees. The vaccines do not contain egg proteins, preservatives, antibiotics or live virus. They are single-dose in prefilled syringes that have no natural rubber latex. The vaccines immunize against all four strains of flu most likely to circulate.
FluMist quadrivalent nasal spray (LAIV4) will also be in the market as a choice. It is approved for people aged two years to 49 years. AstraZeneca a FluMist maker said that study shows that a new version of the vaccine is more effective than the older version. Pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest shots for children since shots work better. Children who refuse shots should be given FluMist.
A new drug to treat influenza
Although flu vaccines are recommended by CDC, they are not as effective as other vaccines. Most people get flu vaccine to prevent flu, but some still acquire the flu virus. However, there are drugs to treat the flu in the market. There is a chance for an additional drug. The Food and Drug Administration has given the drug Baloxavir marboxil a priority review. The drug shuts down infection quickly and can be taken as a single dose. Its effectiveness is unlike any other medicine in the market for flu treatment.
The drug reduces the duration for flu symptoms and the time of fever by a day which usually takes few days in uncomplicated flu infections. Barloxavir marboxil also minimizes the length of time people who suffer a flu cough and sneezes out viruses. This reduces the risk of spreading the flu virus to people who are around them.
Other available treatment drugs for flu are Relenza and Peramivir which are commonly used for hospitalized patients who are unable to take pills. People at risk of complications from influenza virus and children, Tamiflu drugs are recommended for them, but it must be taken in multiple doses and for several days.