Vaccines already available for upcoming flu season

Vaccines already available for upcoming flu season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The 2015-2016 season flu shot is available at local pharmacies, doctor's offices, and hospitals.

The CDC and the WHO make an educated guess on what strains to include in this vaccination early in the year. Manufacturers need time produce enough to cover expected demand. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 171 and 179 million doses of vaccines for the U.S. market. Shipments started back in July to healthcare providers and will continue through October until it is all distributed.

Flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last as late as May. So the CDC recommends getting the flu shot as soon as it's available, and if possible by October. That ensures as many people as possible are protected before the flu season kicks into high gear. It takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Dr. Dennis Rhoades, the medical director for Doctor's Care Beach Region, says he hears many excuses why patients do not want to get the flu shot. The main reason being that they believe getting the flu shot makes them sick.

"The flu shot is an inactive virus," explains Rhoades. "You will not get sick from the virus. What will happen however is when you take the flu shot, you'll get an immune response. You're immune system will say, 'Oh, I have to make antibodies, because I think there's a virus in my system.'"

Dr. Rhoades says you might feel symptoms of the early flu including aches, nasal congestion, and a low-grade fever. Those are the effects of your body making antibodies. The best way to make sure you don't feel extreme side effects from getting the vaccine itself: get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.

Rhoades says getting a shot and taking care of yourself throughout the flu season will mean you're less likely to get the flu and if you do get the flu, it will be a milder case. The flu can be contagious and last for seven to ten days. But with the flu shot, your case may only last five days. That can make a huge difference if you're the major breadwinner for the house.

According to DHEC, more people tested positive for the flu during the 2014 season than the year before. There was concern last year when the flu shot was found to be not as effective against the strains that were floating around.

Each shot has two A strains and one B strain. There is another shot that has two of each. The A strain is considered a more severe and fast-spreading flu virus. The B strain is considered less severe. The 2015-2016 vaccine includes:

California/A strain

Switzerland/A strain

Phuket/B strain

Last year's vaccine included:

California/A strain

Texas/A strain

Massachusetts/B strain

And if you're wondering why the strains are named like that. Dr. Rhoades says, "They come up with the names of those strains based on where they believe the index case started, where the particular virus started."

Another change for this year includes recommendations for the nasal spray flu vaccine. Last year, the CDC recommended the LAIV nasal spray for healthy kids 2-9 years old. But this year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices did not renew that recommendation. According to the vote, the decision was "based on new data from more recent seasons which have not confirmed superior effectiveness of the LAIV spray'.

Anyone older than 6 months is recommended to get the flu shot. If you're older than 65 or younger than 8 years old, you might need to get two doses. Those doses will need to be four weeks apart.

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