Bethlehem Press

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Experts: Get flu vaccine soon

Thursday, October 20, 2016 by Brian Myszkowski bmyszkowski@tnonline.com in Local News

As the leaves begin to change and the weather cools down, many people are thinking forward to the fall and winter, and that means flu season.

A recent report from Kaiser Health News raised questions about the optimal time for inoculation, with some sources in the article recommending that people age 65 or older would potentially benefit from waiting until early October at the earliest.

However, most physicians and pharmacists are encouraging individuals to get their flu shot as soon as they can.

“If you haven’t gotten it already, this is as good a time as any,” said Dr. Jeffrey A. Jahre, vice president of Medical and Academic Affairs and Chief of the Infectious Diseases Section at St. Luke’s University Health Network.

When it comes to concerns that the effectiveness of the vaccine tapering off, Jahre pointed out that the report in question cited only one study, which involved people age 65 and older.

Dr. Charles Cutler, president-elect of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, recommends getting the vaccine as soon as possible, as the flu season is difficult, if not impossible, to predict.

“The flu season could come early, or it could come late. Trying to time this like trying to time this is like trying to predict the stock market. It just won’t work,” Cutler said.

Local pharmacists that distribute the vaccine agree that right now is the usual peak time for people to get the shot.

As to the most effective version, opinions are mixed, but all agree that any flu vaccine is better than none.

“The important thing is to get protection against type A. All who could take the vaccine should get it. Nearly everyone over the age of six months that doesn’t have a severe allergy to the vaccine should get it,” Jahre said.

Many places are opting to offer the quadrivalent formula, just as a precaution.

Jahre said that the only thing to avoid would be the nasal vaccine. Most doctors and pharmacies have not ordered it, and it should ideally not be used, as it is currently deemed ineffective.

Jahre also said that this year’s trivalent and quadrivalent inoculations should be rather effective against the flu in general, with a 50 to 60 percent effectiveness rating. Despite concerns, every doctor and pharmacist concurred that you cannot go wrong getting the vaccine now, as it should provide ample protection.