The Flu Vaccine: Love the One You're With--But Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow's Vaccine

So today I went through one of my favorite rituals and it wasn't a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon; it was my annual flu vaccination.

This year I got the quadrivalent version of the vaccine, at my place of appointment, and it was much easier to find than last year when I basically had to cold-call several pharmacies to find it. 

I want to make couple of points to make about the annual flu vaccination.

1. Getting the vaccine early is advisable. Though there is some decrement in the level of immunity as the season progresses, being immunized at the start of the season is the best way to avoid the flu. Remember it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to induce immunity so it's ideal to be vaccinated prior to the start of the season.

2. The quadrivalent vaccine should be the preferred vaccine for almost everyone with the exception of the elderly who should receive the high dose trivalent formulation (hopefully soon to be quadrivalent).

3. Children between 2 and 8 years of age should receive the nasal live-attenuated version given the high efficacy it shows in this population

4. I anticipate a rough flu season this year based on what is going on in the Southern Hemisphere's current season (which runs opposite to ours).

The ordinary vaccine is about 60% effective (assuming a good match with circulating strains) at preventing the acquisition of flu and, for the vaccinated who contract flu, it can decrease the chances of having a severe case.

Though we are still years away from the Holy Grail--a game-changing universal vaccine that does not require one to be revaccinated each year and provides near-sterilizing immunity (like other vaccines)--for now, we've got to love the one we're with.