Which viruses do they protect against?
There are many different strains of the flu and it constantly changes from year to year. The composition of the U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match that years circulating flu virus. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common. For 2018-2019, trivalent vaccines are recommended to contain:
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus (updated)
- B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus (updated)
- Quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines, which protect against a second lineage of B viruses, are recommended to contain:
the three recommended viruses above, plus B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus.
Can I get a flu shot if I have an egg allergy?
If you only experience hives after exposure to egg you are able to get any licensed flu vaccine that is appropriate for your age and health
If you experience other symptoms after exposure to egg such as angioedema, respiratory distress, lightheadedness, or recurrent emesis; or who have needed epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, you can still get a flu shot as long as you are in a medical setting supervised by a health care provider to manage any severe allergic reactions.
When should I get vaccinated?
You should be vaccinated before the flu begins to spread in your community, it takes about 2 weeks for the antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in your body. The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated before the end of October. But, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and should be available to you until the end of flu season and sometimes even into the beginning of January.
What flu vaccines are recommended this season?
For the 2018-2019 flu season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4). Options this season include:
- Standard dose flu shots. These are given into the muscle. They are usually given with a needle, but two (Afluria and Afluria Quadrivalent) can be given to some people (those aged 18-64 years) with a jet injector.
- High-dose shots for older people.
- Shots made with adjuvant for older people.
- Shots made with virus grown in cell culture.
- Shots made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of flu virus.
- Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is also an option for use during the 2018-2019 season for persons whom it is otherwise appropriate.
There is a table showing all flu vaccines that are FDA-approved for use in the United States during the 2018-2019 season.