Health September 17, 2023 | 9:00 am

Influenza vaccine prevents spread of influenza virus; it’s getting closer

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease; all people six months of age and older should receive it.

Influenza viruses are constantly changing; for this reason, every year, the composition of influenza vaccines is reviewed in the United States and updated as necessary to match as best as possible with the viruses, which, according to research, will be the most circulating in the season that is starting.

A detail
Dr. Jhan Gonzalez, a pulmonologist, indicates that the suggestions regarding the annual vaccination against influenza have some modifications, such as, for example, a change in the vaccination recommendations for people with egg allergy.

The specialist explains that the timing of influenza vaccination has not been modified; September and October are the best months for most people to get vaccinated. Vaccination is not recommended in July and August in most cases, but there are some considerations for certain groups of people in July and August.

Over 65 and pregnant women
For adults (especially those 65 years and older) and pregnant women in their first or second trimester, vaccination should be avoided in July and August unless they are not likely to be vaccinated in September or October.

Pregnant women in their third trimester can be vaccinated in July or August to ensure that their babies are protected against influenza at birth.

Children who need two doses of influenza vaccine should receive their first dose as soon as it becomes available. The second dose should be given at least four weeks after the first dose. Vaccination in July or August may be considered for children who have medical appointments in these months if there will not be another opportunity. The physician from Centros de Diagnóstico y Medicina Avanzada y Telemedicina (CEDIMAT) assures that vaccination is still recommended as long as there is circulation of influenza viruses that pose a risk. In some seasons, this period may extend until the end of May or June. Gonzalez points out that the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine may depend in part on the coincidence between the vaccine’s viruses and those circulating.

According to preliminary estimates, last season, people vaccinated against this disease had between 40% and 70% less risk of hospitalization due to influenza or its associated complications.

People with egg allergy
The significant change in influenza vaccination recommendations for 2023-2024 relates to administering the vaccine to egg-allergic persons. The physician says most current vaccines are still produced with an egg protein culture process and, therefore, contain a small amount of egg proteins, such as ovalbumin.

The CDC advises that the best way to reduce your risk of seasonal influenza and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated every year, this October.

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