The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that everyone over the age of six months who does not have a “severe, life-threatening” allergy to a component of the vaccine should receive a flu shot in the coming months.
Most people should get one flu shot, ideally in September or October, said the CDC in its Aug. 23 announcement.
“However, vaccination should continue throughout the season as long as influenza viruses are circulating,” the agency said.
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Some children under the age of 9 will need two different flu shots four weeks apart, according to the CDC’s guidance.
The number of doses required is dependent upon the child’s prior vaccination history — and the first dose should be given as early as possible.
“Vaccination during July and August can be considered for children of any age who require only one dose,” the CDC said.
All the flu vaccines distributed in the United States during the 2023-2024 flu season will be “quadrivalent,” or four-component.
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Not everyone who gets a flu shot will be getting the same one, however.
Two of the eight approved flu shots are only for those over the age of 65; two are approved only for those older than 6 months and younger than 3 years; and another is approved only for people over the age of 18.
Individuals with egg allergies will have additional flu vaccine choices for the 2023-2024 flu season, the CDC announced.
“People with egg allergy may get any vaccine (egg-based or non-egg-based) that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health status,” said the agency.
Previously, those who were allergic to eggs could not receive certain flu shots because they were created with an egg component.
“Beginning with the 2023-2024 season, additional safety measures are no longer recommended for flu vaccination of people with an egg allergy beyond those recommended for receipt of any vaccine, regardless of the severity of previous reaction to egg,” said the CDC.
About a fifth, or 21%, of the approximately 170 million flu vaccines distributed in the U.S. will be egg-free.
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Before this flu season, the CDC recommended that those who had experienced signs of a severe egg allergy should receive a flu vaccine “in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting.”
Although the CDC is no longer recommending these extra precautions, the guidance states that “all vaccines should be given in settings where allergic reactions can be recognized and treated quickly.”
And for those who may be spooked by needles, the CDC advises that “healthy non-pregnant persons aged 2 through 49 years may alternatively receive 0.2 mL of [Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine], 0.1 mL per nostril, using the supplied intranasal sprayer.”
Women who will be pregnant during the flu season are advised to get either a recombinant or inactive flu vaccine.
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Those at the highest risk of complications from influenza are the very young, the very old, pregnant women, those with immunocompromising conditions and those with pre-existing lung or heart conditions.
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People who are immunocompromised should not receive the live flu vaccine, but can receive the inactive or recombinant version, according to the CDC.