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Flu vaccination in 2019

Last year’s flu season claimed the lives of more than 1000 people, most of whom were over the age of 65.

Flu shots for the over 65’s are currently available only through your GP and should be a three component flu shot such as Fluad.

Our immune defences become weaker with age. The 3 component flu vaccine has an additive that creates a stronger immune response to vaccination in the over 65’s.

A Canadian study of people aged over 65 years showed the 3 component flu vaccine was 63% more effective than 4 component flu shots.

 

Flu vaccination for the under 65 age group

If you are under 65, have 4 component flu shot such as FluQuadri or Fluarix Tetra. The 4 component flu vaccine is designed only for those under 65 who need a broader cover. 

If you have diabetes, cancer or chronic lung, kidney, heart or vascular disease, your GP has free ones in stock for you.

 

Timing your Flu shot

The flu vaccine benefit wears off at 8% per month, and too early vaccination may mean the benefit is lost by the time it is needed during the main flu season (July to September). Having your flu shot in April or later will make it effective enough to work when it is needed.

 

Complications of influenza versus influenza vaccination

Guillain-Barré syndrome (Ref 2) is a neurological complication of influenza resulting in about 17 hospital admissions per million episodes of influenza. It can occur after flu vaccination, but the incidence of hospital admissions is only one in a million episodes of vaccination.

 

References

1 Intraseason Waning of Influenza Vaccine Protection: Evidence From the US Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network, 2011–2012 Through 2014–2015

Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 64, Issue 5, 1 March 2017, Pages 544–550,

2 Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after seasonal influenza vaccination and influenza health-care encounters: a self-controlled study

Lancet Infect Dis. 2013 Sep;13(9):769-76. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70104-X. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Dr Terry Rose