Flu season is right around the corner, and there are important new recommendations about the flu vaccine. Consumer Reports explains who is affected by these changes and when it's best for people to get the vaccine.
We all know getting a vaccine is hands down the best defense against the flu. But depending on your age and health, you may need to change the type of vaccine you get.
Kids are not going to like this, but this year the nasal vaccine FluMist is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"In the last three years, FluMist offered little if any protection against the flu in children between the ages of 2 and 17," said Orly Avitzur, M.D., Consumer Reports Medical Director.
By comparison, when children got the shot, the vaccine was 63 percent effective at preventing the flu.
Adults ages 18 to 64 have the option of getting the vaccine with a smaller needle that only pierces the skin, which should be less painful than the traditional shot injected into the muscle.
There are new formulations for people 65 and over to consider whose immune system research shows, may not be as responsive as young people's.
Fluzone High Dose is four times stronger than the normal vaccine and another type, Fluad, boosts older people's immune system response. Check with your doctor on those.
"When it comes to timing the shot, healthy people under the age of 60 or so can benefit from longer protection by getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available," Avitzur said.
However, the protective effect of the vaccine may wear off faster in older people. So getting the shot a bit later - in early fall - may protect them better during winter, when the flu season tends to peak.
In any case, it takes about two weeks to build up immunity.
Consumer Reports said the most important thing is to get the flu shot, no matter what the timing. The standard vaccine is still free under most insurance plans and Medicare - no co-pay or deductible. But you'll need to check with your insurance company to be sure.
All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
Consumer Reports: How to prevent the flu
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