What you need to know about the 2014–2015 flu vaccine

Aug. 26, 2014—The vaccine for the coming 2014–2015 flu season will contain the same virus strains as did the vaccine for the last season.

That doesn’t mean you can skip your annual flu vaccination this time around. The immunity bestowed on you by last year’s vaccine may not protect you this year.

But there may be good news for kids. In fact, this year’s recommendations may reduce the number of doses some kids need for full protection.

Vaccine details

There are two types of flu vaccine available:

Traditional (trivalent) vaccines protect against three strains of flu. They contain dead viruses and are delivered by injection only.

Quadrivalent vaccines protect against four strains of flu and come in two forms. The injection form contains dead viruses, while a nasal spray form contains live but weakened viruses.

The flu virus strains included in the 2014–2015 vaccines are the same strains found in last year’s vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Who needs what when

For this flu season, CDC has these recommendations:

  • Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated as soon as vaccine supplies are available, generally in October.
  • Children ages 6 months through 8 years who received at least one dose of the 2013–2014 vaccine will only need one dose of the 2014–2015 vaccine.
  • Healthy children ages 2 through 8 years should receive the nasal spray if it’s immediately available. If the nasal spray isn’t immediately available, however, the children should get standard shots.

Because the nasal spray vaccine contains a weak but live virus, it’s not recommended for everyone. Among those who shouldn’t get the nasal spray are pregnant women, children under 2 years old, and adults 50 and older.

You can read CDC’s recommendations here.

The take-home message
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, and if you do get sick after you’re vaccinated, you might find that your illness is a little less severe due to the protection the vaccine provides.

But prompt vaccination can do more than keep you from getting sick. It might also help those around you. That’s especially true if you spend time around babies, older adults or others who are at greater risk of getting really sick from the flu. If you avoid getting sick, you’ll avoid spreading those germs to people who simply can’t afford to get the flu.

That’s why you should be vaccinated as soon as you can this year, and make sure the others in your family do the same. But if you do get the flu, you should stay home from work or school.

For more information about the flu, visit the Flu health topic center.


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