An earlier publication in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2003 has shown that the death rate of people 65 years or older who were vaccinated against the flu, dropped into half when they were exposed to the flu and were compared to non-vaccinated controls. On Oct. 9, 2003 Dr. Megan Wren, associate director of the internal medicine residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, reminded physicians that with the upcoming flu season it is important to include everybody who is healthy at age 50 or older (as the CDC has suggested now for 3 years) with influenza vaccination . Many physicians are still not aware that the rules have been changed to incude younger persons.
Below are recommendations of who should get a vaccination (in table form).
Dr. Wren pointed out that the risk from a flu vaccination is minimal. Contrary to public belief the flu vaccine does not cause fever, unwellness or muscle aches. The only effect is a mildly sore arm at the site of injection.
This year the FDA has approved a live flu vaccine that is administered as a nasal spray. This is a live modified flu virus that has been “trained” to only multiply in the colder nasal cavity, but not in the warmer airways. Like with all live viral vaccines pregnant women are not allowed to take this.
Who should get the flu vaccine ?
Group of people:
|all people age 50 or over||the immune system weakens with age, that’s why complications of the flu are more common in this age group|
|women who will be in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of a pregnancy during November through to March||protects the fetus from the flu virus in the most vulnerable period of the development of the fetus|
|chronic heart disease or lung disease (including asthma)||the flu affects the lungs and the heart most readily|
|chronic kidney or liver disease||these chronic diseases weaken the immune system|
|people without a spleen and cancer patients||the immune system is weak in these patients|
|children and adults with any chronic disease including diabetes||chronic illnesses weaken the immune system in young and old|
|people on imunosuppressive medications||the immune system is weak in these patients|
|all close family members of any of the above people||the CDC hopes that this stops the spread of the flu into this vulnerable group of patients|
Dr. Wren also mentioned that people with chronic illnesses, with immune deficiencies (e.g. AIDS and cancer patients) and healthy patients over the age of 50 cannot take this live vaccine. All others from age 5 to 49 can take it, but presently this is still very costly (one nasal mist application in 2003 is about 50.00$ US).
Last edited December 9, 2012