Flu Season is Coming... What Do You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine?

I recently discovered a great new tool called Google Flu Trends.  This interactive map allows you to get an up-to-date analysis of influenza activity in your area.  Also, it is just interesting to see the flu risk in other parts of the country and world.  Who knew that Queensland, Australia is currently experiencing an influenza outbreak?  Well, the flu bug from the south pacific is headed for the U.S. and will arrive before you know it.  What do we as nurse practitioners need to know about the different types of flu vaccines in order to stay up-to-date this flu season?

According to the CDC, there are multiple flu shot options available this year to protect your patients from influenza.  The following is a list of flu shots for the 2012-2013 flu season including which patients should receive which vaccine.

  • Standard Flu Vaccine- The standard flu vaccine should be administered to patients 36 months of age and older.  This vaccine comes in either pre-filled syringes or a multi-dose vial.  Patients should be administered a dose of 0.5mL IM.
  • Pediatric Flu Vaccine- The pediatric flu vaccine is indicated for children ages 6 months to 35 months of age.  Some children may need two doses of the influenza vaccine.  The following algorithm should be used to determine which children will require an additional dose of the influenza vaccine.  

  • High-Dose Fluzone- This vaccine should be given in patients ages 65 and older.  High-dose fluzone is manufactures with four times the antigen of the traditional flu vaccine resulting in an increased immune response.  Given that immune response decreases with age, elderly adults should be administered the high-dose vaccine to provide greater immunity. 
  • FluMist- FluMist can be administered in individuals ages 2 to 49 years.  The benefit of FluMist is it's intranasal delivery so patients can avoid an injection.  FluMist should not be administered in patients that have asthma, are immunocompromised or who live with immunocompromised individuals as it is a live virus.

Questions about the flu vaccine for the 2012-2013 flu season?  Visit the CDC website for detailed information or ask us and we will search for answers.