Immunizations in Stock:
Flu shots (Available Fall 2021):
Fluad--for adults over age 65, quadrivalent (4 strains), adjuvanted (high-potency), preservative free
Shingrix--Shingles vaccine, preservative free
Tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis--Tdap (Adacel)
Tetanus and diphtheria (Td)
FLU SHOT FAQ's
What is the Flu Vaccine?
The standard flu shot vaccine is made from flu viruses that have been grown on fertilized chicken eggs. Another method of production is to grow in an egg-free cell culture. The viruses are killed during manufacturing, a process known as “inactivation.” These inactivated viruses provide proteins or antigens that trigger a protective antibody response when the vaccine is injected into the arm or thigh muscle. Antibodies against flu viruses begin to appear one to two weeks after getting the flu shot and last for months, and sometimes even up to one year. Our office offers two types of vaccines: Fluad for age 65 and older and Flucelvax for ages 18-6. Flucelvax is egg free.
Flu Vaccines are typically covered by insurance, meaning most people pay nothing out of pocket. If you are not insured, we offer self- pay rates comparable to the local pharmacies and clinics. If you are under the age of 65 the cost is $50.00 and if you are over 65, the cost is $70.00.
Who Should Not Get the Flu Vaccine? Who Should Proceed with Caution?
Flu vaccine is extremely safe for the vast majority of people, including breastfeeding and
pregnant women. However, some groups should exercise caution:
People with a history of severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine or its components.
Those with a severe allergy to eggs, unless recommended by their allergist. Vaccination is still found to be safe if you have this history, but we do recommend observation for a short time after vaccination.
Anyone with moderate to severe acute illness, until the illness resolves.
Children under six months of age, because the vaccine is ineffective in this age group. (Instead, their household contacts and caretakers should get vaccinated).
People with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome, until they consult their doctor.
Getting a Flu Vaccine during the COVID-19 Pandemic
If coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is spreading in my community, should I still go out to get a flu vaccine? Yes. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. To protect your health when getting a flu vaccine, follow CDC’s recommendations for running essential errands and doctor visits. Continue to take everyday preventive actions.
Can I have flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Yes. It is possible to have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.
Is COVID-19 more dangerous than the flu?
Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness, including illness resulting in hospitalization or death. While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, at this time, it does seem as if COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza; however, it is too early to draw any conclusions from the current data. This may change as we learn more about the number of people who are infected who have mild illnesses.
Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.
Check for updated information on the CDC website...
ABOUT THE FLU SHOT
The Danger of Flu
The CDC estimated recently that 34,200 people died from the flu in the 2018-2019 flu season. About 75% of those were over age 65, but it also affects all other ages. The flu is highly contagious, making it hard to avoid if one of your family members brings it home. I have personally seen the effects of a heavy flu season. I started my medical career in 2009 and witnessed first hand the scary effects of the swine flu epidemic which affected over 59 million Americans.
The chart below shows that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 19% and 60%. The 2019 estimated efficacy was 39% (not shown on the chart). In general, current flu vaccines tend to work better against influenza B and influenza A (H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
When to Get Immunized
Many experts recommend not getting immunized too early. We have heard opinions that immunity is greatest in the first six months after immunization, but there is also evidence that immunity from prior year’s shot can linger to subsequent years. The exact facts are not completely clear. It is common practice to aim to immunize by October 31st. Remember that it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after receiving the shot.
We have chosen to use the quadrivalent (four flu strains) preparation Flucelvax because it provides broader coverage for influenza B strains. This one is also grown by cell culture, not in eggs, giving it the potential to be more effective and safe. We also use an adjuvanted preparation for patients over 65 years-old as it has shown better efficacy in this age group. This has an added ingredient which stimulates a better immune response without using higher doses of vaccine. For the 2020 year, this now comes as the quadrivalent vaccine Fluad Quadrivalent (this one is not egg free). We only use preservative-free, single-dose vaccine preparations.
Precautions to Consider
Egg allergy used to be a reason to avoid the flu shot, but not anymore. It is shown to be safe in this group, with very unlikely reactions occurring. Regardless, we use egg-free preparation for people up to age 65 due to better efficacy, so there’s no possibility of reaction.
The one reason to avoid the shot is a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS). The connection between the flu shot and GBS is not completely certain, but it is quite compelling (best estimate is 1-2 cases per million flu shots given). If you have had this, we don’t want to give you the vaccine, although that recommendation does not come from the CDC. It is just our personal practice. We also avoid giving the vaccine if you are currently ill with a fever.
Vaccinations are always a personal choice, but we strongly support use of the flu vaccine to provide whatever protection possible against the flu. Epidemics in our history have caused major suffering and death, and we have a way to reduce our risk—even if a 30-60% reduction seems small. Side-effects from the shot are possible, but very rare.
For more information, refer to the CDC webpage on flu, which contains the most unbiased information available now. You can also review the Arizona Department of Health flu webpage, where they monitor current flu data.