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Information On The 2017-2018 Flu Season.

Article By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts
Flu Season

It's estimated that between from 5 to 20 percent of people in the United States get influenza each year. The flu is especially dangerous for older adults, infants and young children, pregnant women, and some people with certain health conditions. "It's a serious health problem for adults and children. And it's preventable," says Doctor Jeffrey Duchin, an associate professor of medicine in the University of Washington Division of Infectious Diseases who is also part the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) advisory panel on immunization practices. For individuals who in "at risk" groups, a flu shot can be an important source of protection. Here's what you need to know about the 2017-18 flu season.
What's New This Season?

As was the case last flu season, the CDC also advises against using the nasal spray flu vaccine. The only recommended form of the vaccine is as an injection, commonly referred to as a "flu shot." Vaccines have been updated according to currently circulating viruses. Two new four-component vaccines will be available this flu season, an inactivated flu vaccine (Afluria Quadrivalent) and a recombinant vaccine (Flublok Quadrivalent). Additional updates to keep in mind include:
  •  Age recommendation is now six months and older (instead of three years and older)
  • Afluria's trivalent formulation is now recommended for individuals five and older (instead of nine and older.
  • Any age-appropriate flu vaccine may be used for pregnant women
  • The A(H1N1) component of the vaccine has been updated
  • A cell-based candidate vaccine virus (a prepared virus meant to be used in vaccine preparations by manufacturers) has been approved for use in vaccines in the Northern Hemisphere for the first time

What Type of Flu Vaccinations Are Recommended for 2017-18?

A 2016 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found nasal flu vaccines to be ineffective. This is one of the reasons why the CDC only recommends injectable versions of the vaccine. Available options for the 2017-18 flu season include:

 • Standard dose flu vaccinations
 • Higher dose shots for older adults
 • Injections with viruses grown in cell cultures
 • Shots manufactured with adjuvant for elderly patients
 • Shots produced with the use of the influenza virus (recombinant vaccines)

What Strains Will Be Targeted In This Season's Vaccines?

Flu vaccines will offer protection against either three or four virus strains, depending on the type of vaccination administered. A three-component vaccination for the 2017-18 season will offer protection against the following virus strains:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
  • Protection against various B viruses

When Is the Best Time to Receive the Flu Vaccine?

Individuals in at-risk groups (e.g., the elderly, very young children) should get the flu vaccine as soon as it's available in their area. Children should also get vaccinated early since they will need two doses administered approximately four weeks apart. The CDC recommends that people schedule their vaccinations for late October. Receiving a vaccination later in the season can still be beneficial, even into January and beyond that point.

Has the Egg Allergy Recommendation Changed?

Individuals with egg allergies no longer need to be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the flu vaccine, according to the CDC. It's considered safe for people with egg allergies to receive an appropriately licensed flu vaccination in a supervised medical setting.

Is a Flu Epidemic Expected for the 2017-18 Season?

In scientific terms, a flu epidemic, defined as an uptick in the number of people who are affected by a certain condition, occurs each year in the during the fall and winter months. As for whether or not there will be a spike in the number of flu cases for 2017-18, the CDC and other leading health agencies monitor flu activity each season for any unusual peaks or instances of a significant rise in cases. However, it's not possible to predict with any certainty what the flu season will be like until data starts coming in on reported cases as the season progresses.

Are There Any New Flu Strains to Worry About This Season?

It's not unusual for new flu strains to develop each year. Even so, it's not possible to identify such strains until they are identified with laboratory testing in affected patients.

When Is Peak Flu Season Expected for 2017-18?

The CDC notes that the timing of the flu can vary in different areas of the United States. Peaks typically occur between December and February. It's recommended that vulnerable individuals receive a flu vaccine in October and November before peak flu activity. It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to become effective.

"The virus is sort of tricky," Dr. Geoffrey A. Weinberg of the University of Rochester notes when discussing how different strains adapt and change. A flu vaccination doesn't offer protection against every single strain of the virus. What it does do, however, is protect against the ones that are most common each season. However, it's still necessary to pay attention to signs you may have the flu, such as muscle aches, a sore throat, extreme fatigue (tiredness), headaches, and a fever and chills, even after you receive your flu shot and see your doctor if you have such symptoms. Most experts on influenza agree that for vulnerable individuals, a flu shot can be an effective way to avoid unnecessary doctor's visitors and hospitalizations and the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

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