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With flu cases being reported as early as September 2022, many health officials are recommending that everyone six months of age or older get a flu shot this September and October to prepare for the upcoming flu season.
“It’s a perfectly good time to [people] to get the medicine right now,” said dr. Aaron Glatt, Ph.D. MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau in New York.
He is also a hospital epidemiologist.
Michael Kinch, Ph.D., an immunologist and vaccine expert and dean of science and vice president at Long Island University in New York, told Fox News Digital, “Although the flu virus can cause a serious disease in all people — regardless of health status or age — elderly and immunocompromised people are particularly susceptible to it.
“It is important that those individuals who are older than six months and have not had severe allergic reactions get a flu shot every year.”
He added, “In an average year, 60,000 Americans die from the flu.”
Regarding this enormous loss of life, he added that “the majority [those losses] can be prevented by routine vaccination.”
Another expert joined the discussion.
dr. Fred Davis, associate chairman of emergency medicine at Northwell Health of Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital that it sees more cases of the flu each year in the emergency department. Davis recommends that people get a flu shot preferably before the end of October — before flu numbers start to rise.
Davis added, “It is important that those individuals over the age of six months who have not had a history of severe allergic reactions get a flu shot every year.”
By getting a flu shot every year, people reduce the chance of serious complications from the flu virus.
Each year, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the four most likely flu viruses expected to be most prevalent that year, Davis noted.
By getting a flu shot every year, he said, people reduce the chances of serious complications from the flu virus.
“Those are more at risk [people older] over 65, people with certain chronic conditions (ie asthma, heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease) and pregnant women,” he said.
“The annual flu shot is especially important in these groups to reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death,” Davis told Fox News Digital.
While federal health officials recommend that most individuals six months of age or older get a flu shot each season, there are rare exceptions where this is not appropriate.
Some vaccines may not be suitable for certain individuals, health officials also said.
“Different flu vaccines are approved for different age groups,” notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website.
There are standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines that are approved for those as young as six months old, the CDC noted; however, some vaccines are only approved for adults.
“Some people (such as pregnant women and people with certain chronic health conditions) should not receive certain types of flu shots, and some people should not receive flu shots at all (although this is uncommon).”
The CDC also said that different flu shots are approved for people of different ages — and that everyone should get a vaccine that’s appropriate for their age.
There are standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines that are approved for people younger than six months, the agency noted; however, some vaccines are only approved for adults.
This includes the recombinant influenza vaccine, which is approved for people 18 years of age and older, and adjuvanted vaccines and high-dose inactivated vaccines, which are approved for people 65 years of age and older.
Three flu shots this year
As of the 2022-2023 flu season, the CDC said there are three flu vaccines recommended for people 65 and older.
These vaccines are Fluzone high-dose quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok recombinant quadrivalent influenza vaccine, and Fluad quadrivalent adjuvanted vaccine.
Davis told Fox News Digital that it’s recommended that people 65 and older get one of these shots because they’re higher doses than other vaccines — and higher doses are potentially more effective at fighting the flu for that age group .
The CDC points out that women who are pregnant and people with certain chronic health conditions, as well as people with an egg allergy, can get the flu shot.
But health experts also said it’s important for people to discuss their individual cases with their healthcare providers to determine whether the vaccine is right for them.
The CDC also states that there are rare circumstances in which some individuals should not receive the flu vaccine.
Those who should no flu vaccines are children younger than six months of age and individuals with “severe, life-threatening allergies to any component of the flu vaccine (except egg protein).”
The CDC said it’s important to talk to your health care providers before getting the flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a severe paralyzing disease.
The agency said this could include antibiotics, gelatin and other ingredients.
The CDC also said that people who have had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot in the past may not be able to receive other flu shots.
It is essential that you speak to your doctor or health care professional to determine if vaccination is appropriate.
The CDC said it’s also important to talk to your health care provider before getting the flu shot if you’ve ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a severely paralyzing disease — because some people with a history of GBS should not get the flu shot .
Also, if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of any other flu vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should avoid getting the new flu shot this time.
“This year will definitely be more difficult than the last two flu seasons, as society is opening up again – and people are wearing masks less and less.”
If you’re not feeling well, talk to your doctor about your symptoms first to see if it’s time to get a flu shot, the CDC said.
Nasal spray vs. injection: What you need to know
When it comes to the nasal spray vs. the shot flu vaccine, health experts told Fox News Digital that it’s crucial to talk to your doctor to determine if this type of vaccine is right for you — as there are several scenarios, in which it is contraindicated and in which a shot would be safer.
“The nasal spray is a live, attenuated vaccine, which means it’s a weakened but live flu virus,” said Dr. Ken Zweig, MD, a primary care physician at Northern Virginia Family Practice in Arlington, Va.
“This will not cause problems for medical patients, but could cause flu infection in anyone who is pregnant, immunocompromised or very young – under the age of two,” he added.
Zweig is an assistant professor of medicine at both Georgetown University and George Washington University Medical School in Washington, DC, he told Fox News Digital.
Zweig added, “There are other, less common reasons not to get a nasal spray, so anyone considering it should check with their doctor first.”
Zweig also told Fox News Digital: “This year will definitely be more difficult than the last two flu seasons because society is opening up again – and people are wearing masks less and less.”
“A lot of people are vaccine weary because of all the covid shots — and more babies and toddlers have never seen the flu … so they probably don’t have any immunity.”
Zweig hopes that the likelihood of the flu virus spreading will decrease as COVID is still on people’s minds and many people are still cautious.
“Most people are still less likely to go to work or visit friends when they have cold symptoms, so I think there will be less chance of the flu spreading than there was before COVID,” he said.
However, Zweig remains concerned.
“A lot of people are vaccine weary because of all the covid shots – and more babies and toddlers have never seen the flu because the last two seasons have been so mild that they probably have no immunity. The best way to ensure a milder flu season is to get as many people as possible vaccinated, so be sure to get vaccinated.”
Glatt also told Fox News Digital, “Flu remains a very serious disease that we need to eradicate — and the best way to prevent very serious flu is through vaccination.”