In one of the previous materials, with the help of specialists, we told that the antigenic composition of the influenza vaccine changes every year in accordance with the epidemic situation and WHO recommendations. The latter has a network of laboratories that, during epidemics, isolate strains from patients, study antigenic and genetic properties, and identify the most relevant of them. Based on the data, it is determined which virus was most often encountered or was presented slightly at the beginning of the season, and turned out to be the most adapted by the end. In the next season, the virus will be very similar to the one that dominated at the end of the last one. With the help of antigenic and genetic analysis, as well as mathematical modeling, they decide whether to change the strains in the vaccine.
Everyone knows that influenza is most dangerous for children under 5 years old, the elderly (over 65 years old) and pregnant women, as well as patients with immunodeficiencies of various nature, cancer patients after chemotherapy. They need to be vaccinated first.
When to get vaccinated
Vaccination of the population against influenza is carried out during September-October. It is best to get vaccinated before the start of the flu season, as protective antibodies against the virus begin to be produced only 2 weeks after the vaccine is administered. I must say right away that there is no connection between vaccinations against coronavirus and influenza. Vaccination against coronavirus infection does not cancel the flu shot. The number of people wishing to be vaccinated should not decrease against the backdrop of a pandemic.
Before vaccination, the patient undergoes a standard procedure: during the appointment, he is examined by a therapist, after which he is sent for examinations, taking into account possible allergic reactions and chronic diseases. If there are none and the person is completely healthy, then he is sent to the treatment room for vaccination. There are no special tests required before flu vaccination. The volume of examinations can be determined by the doctor individually, depending on the anamnesis of the patient’s life.
How the flu vaccine is changing
Influenza viruses constantly mutate, each year new strains appear that provoke new seasonal epidemics. And the composition of influenza vaccines also changes each season to provide the greatest protection against the viruses circulating at that particular time period. Before licensing a new vaccine, the competent authorities carefully study it, in many countries there are systems for monitoring and researching all cases of negative side effects after immunization of the population against the influenza virus.
Although the effectiveness of the flu vaccine may vary from season to season, in general, vaccination reduces the risk of illness for both those vaccinated and those around them. Vaccination has been, is and remains the most effective measure to prevent severe complications of influenza.
Special category of patients
Despite the fact that pregnant women and nursing mothers are a special category of patients, whose treatment is always carried out under medical supervision, they are recommended to get vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination is the most effective preventive measure for complications after influenza, which can pose a threat of miscarriage, as well as intrauterine fetal developmental disorders. Before vaccination, it is better for pregnant women to consult a doctor and, if necessary, undergo additional examinations, and also be very selective in choosing a vaccine – it is better to use a high-quality purified influenza vaccine. It is also recommended for lactating women to be vaccinated, since the body, weakened after childbirth, is very sensitive to various infections. All the protective cells that the woman’s immunity will produce after vaccination will pass to the child along with mother’s milk and become additional protection for him.
Contraindications for vaccination
It is better to get vaccinated during the period of preparation for pregnancy. This will maximize immunity to pregnancy and childbirth – just when the body needs it most, reduce the risks of possible infection, which can lead to both fetal abnormalities and miscarriage, providing protection against complications not only for the mother, but also her unborn child.
In conclusion, I will add that a contraindication to influenza vaccination is malignant tumors, an allergy to egg white. As well as chronic diseases in the acute stage, acute febrile conditions, fever and any beginning symptoms of a respiratory infection – such as headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, aching joints. In this case, the patient may receive a temporary medical exemption from vaccination for a period of 2 weeks to a month.