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September 25, 2021

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Weekend doctor: Influenza during the covid-19 pandemic

New vaccines are produced each year to match the circulating viruses

By Kris Kaufman, APRN-CNP
Certified Nurse Practitioner, Putnam County Primary Care

The influenza (flu) vaccine with the COVID-19 pandemic will be an interesting topic this year. This article addresses the timing of when to get your flu vaccination.

Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by INFLUENZA A OR B virus, occurring as an epidemic every year. These viruses change frequently, and their subsequent spread depends on the susceptibility of the population to viruses.

The role of the flu vaccine is to protect those that are most vulnerable in our population. Those at risk are older adults, the very young, those with multiple co-morbidities and those with an alteration in their immune system.

The influenza virus is remarkable for its high rate of mutation, compromising the immune system's ability to protect against new variants.

Consequently, new vaccines are produced each year to match the circulating viruses through global surveillance of the virus strain from the previous years' flu outbreak.

The World Health Organization recommends that vaccines are not given until late September to cover the entire flu season, which runs from early October until May. Given too early in the year, as sometimes retail pharmacies do, they will not provide complete coverage through the end of the flu season.

For healthy non-pregnant adults up to 49 years of age, a standard – the trivalent IIVs inactive vaccine is recommended with two influenza A and one B strains. For the over 65-year-old adult, the quadrivalent vaccine contains two influenza A antigens and two influenza B antigens. There is still a worry with the Coronavirus, which remains unclear.