Flu season is here again, and besides a fever and runny nose, it can bring about the longtime controversy surrounding vaccines. In order to protect more human lives this year and to clarify some of the most common misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine, the team at ConsumerSafety.org met with Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical University. Below are answers to some of the most common queries surrounding the flu vaccine.
How is the Flu Vaccine Created?
Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine you receive this year is
not the same vaccine that you received last year. The flu, also known as
is a respiratory virus that is able to mutate and evolve over time.
According to Dr. Schaffner, the virus can “change sometimes from year to
year, perhaps every 2-3 years.” Therefore, the vaccine needs to change
and evolve as well to keep people protected every year.
Because parts of the world experience flu season at the opposite time
that we do, there are actually two vaccines developed every year – one
for the northern hemisphere and one for the southern hemisphere. Each
vaccine is developed nine months prior to flu season in a collaborative
effort between the World Health Organization (WHO), the FDA, and the
CDC. Based on WHO’s year-round global surveillance and influenza sampling, expert committees can “make recommendations about the creation of the vaccine” for each half of the world.
Who Needs the Flu Vaccine?
Everyone is at risk for the flu, and therefore with a few exceptions,
everyone is recommended to get vaccinated. According to the CDC, everyone six months or older
should receive an annual flu shot. Contrary to popular belief, this
recommendation includes pregnant women, seniors, and children. It’s also
important to note that not only is it safe for pregnant women, but the
mother’s vaccine will actually protect the infant for six months after
its birth. ...read more