The Latest on the Flu Vaccine

CDC Recommendations for Flu Vaccination Released

August 22, 2011

One really important healthy practice that should be done for asthma patients is to get their annual flu shots.  The 2011-2012 vaccination recommendations against the upcoming influenza season have been released by the CDC. To allow optimal production of antibodies against the flu virus, the CDC recommends getting the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available.

Highlights of the August 18, 2011 MMWR report by the CDC are as follows:

  1. The influenza strains are unchanged from last year’s vaccine however it does not mean one should not get vaccinated.  The protection wanes after a year thus re-vaccination is recommended to get adequate flu protection.
  2. Flu Vaccination of all persons aged ≥6 months continues to be recommended.
  3. Flu Vaccination schedule for children ages 6 months to 8 years of age are as follows:
    1. Children aged 6 months through 8 years require 2 doses of influenza vaccination during their first season of vaccination to optimize immune response. This should be administered at least 4 weeks apart.
    2. For the 2011-2012 influenza season, the strains will be unchanged from the 2010-2011 season. Therefore, if the child received the flu vaccine last year only 1 dose will be required this year.
    3. The flu vaccine can be administered through 3 different routes:
      1. The newest method is injection via intradermal method. This is available for adults aged 18 – 64 years of age.  In the intradermal method, the vaccine is given under the skin using a much smaller needle.
      2. The traditional intramuscular injection route which uses a little bigger needle to administer the flu vaccine into the muscle.  The age indication varies depending on the influenza vaccine manufacturer.  See the CDC table for reference.
      3. A high dose flu vaccine is available for older adults over 65 years old which is also given intramuscularly.
      4. The LAIV, live-attenuated influenza vaccine, is available as a nasal spray for healthy people aged 2 to 49 years old who are not pregnant or who do not have certain health conditions.
        1. Adults 50 years of age and older or children from 6 through 23 months of age. (Children younger than 6 months should not get either influenza vaccine.)
        2. Children younger than 5 years with asthma or one or more episodes of wheezing within the past year
        3. Pregnant women.
        4. People who have long-term health problems with:-heart disease -kidney or liver disease -lung disease -metabolic disease, such as diabetes -asthma -anemia, and other blood disorders
        5. Anyone with certain muscle or nerve disorders (such as seizure disorders or cerebral palsy) that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems.
        6. Anyone with a weakened immune system.
        7. Anyone in close contact with someone whose immune system is so weak they require care in a protected environment (such as a bone marrow transplant unit). Close contacts of other people with a weakened immune system (such as those with HIV) may receive LAIV. Healthcare personnel in neonatal intensive care units or oncology clinics may receive LAIV.
        8. Children or adolescents on long-term aspirin treatment

Read the full CDC report for further details.

Submitted by:

Manuel S. Villareal, M.D., FAAAAI, FACAAI

Board Certified Allergist and Immunologist