Important Flu Season Announcement. Our first partial shipment of mercury free flu vaccines has arrived. Please schedule your appointment as soon as possible. We are offering flu vaccines for the 2023-2024 influenza season to all members (including parents and caregivers). The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine annually. Please be advised that the CDC currently recommends that all adults 65 years and older receive a “high dose” quadrivalent flu vaccine—different from what we provide to children and adults < 65 years in age.
2023-2024 Flu Season
Vaccination for influenza remains important this year. Last year we had an early and particularly bad influenza season. Australia, often a harbinger for the U.S. flu season, is currently experiencing an early influenza wave with high disease burden this season, particularly in kids. Since the influenza season starting in Australia in April 2023, children have made up 75% of the hospitalizations due to influenza. Australian data show children aged 5-9 years old have thus far been the most impacted, followed by children under 5 years of age. While flu season typically peaks between December and February here in California, last year we had an earlier start and peak to our flu season. The CDC recommends getting your flu vaccine by September/October 2023. After getting the flu shot, it takes about two weeks to build up antibodies. Being vaccinated by September/October allows ample time to build up immunity that will last through the worst months of flu season. Additionally, kids under age 9 who’ve never taken a flu shot and whose immune systems may not have been exposed to influenza, require two shots and should get their first dose ASAP.
Infants and young children (under 10) are known vectors for influenza which can then be spread to adults and grandparents, and preventing flu will lessen the strain on our urgent care facilities and hospitals which have recently had an uptick in activity due to the summer surge of COVID. Last winter we saw a surge in viral illnesses including a “Tripledemic” of Flu, RSV, and COVID. Please support our communities (particularly the immunocompromised, very young and also elderly members) by immunizing to prevent infection and spread of these viruses.
We will have a few doses of Flumist (flu vaccine delivered via the nose) for the needle-phobic, non-pregnant individual between 2-49 years.* As you may recall, Flumist was determined to be less effective than the flu shot in 2015 and wasn’t offered for a few years. The CDC hasn’t yet released their official Flumist recommendation for the 2022-2023 flu season, but given last year’s endorsement, we anticipate it this year as well. If you want a Flumist for your child, call or email soon, as we receive a limited supply and will surely run out. Children with asthma, the immunocompromised and those with underlying chronic medical conditions should not receive the Flumist vaccine. We can discuss this further at your appointment.
*Flumist is not recommended for individuals with certain medical conditions. Talk to one of our providers to help decide if this is an appropriate vaccine for your child.
We expect to receive the remainder of our allotment of flu vaccines for this influenza season over the course of the next 2 to 3 months – in the meantime, we will administer vaccines on a first come first serve basis. Unlike many practices and pharmacies, all of our flu vaccines are mercury-free. We will do our best to accommodate requests by parents to receive their (and also nannies) flu vaccines at GetzWell.
Flu Vaccine Details. This year’s influenza vaccine has been reformulated to cover the 4 most common variants expected in North America for the 2023-2024 flu season. We do not yet have efficacy data from the Southern Hemisphere. Viral antigens contained in the flu vaccine are chosen by a branch of the FDA known as the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) to maximize the probability that the vaccine will protect against the influenza virus strains that are most likely to spread in North America this season. We will carry the quadrivalent vaccine that covers two A strains and two B strains. This year’s flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere is designed to protect against:
- A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1)
- A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)
- B/Michigan/01/2021 (B/Victoria lineage)
- B/Phuket/3073/2013 (Yamagata lineage)
Review the information below about which vaccine is right for you or your child.
The following is a list of mercury-free vaccines that will be available this season at GetzWell:
- 6 months of age and older: intramuscular (IM) single dose flu vaccine (preservative-free)
- 2 yrs and older: live attenuated nasal flu vaccine (preservative-free)
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine for the upcoming season. Again, children under 9 years of age who haven’t received 2 or more doses of seasonal flu vaccine in the past should have 2 doses this year in order to be considered fully immune.
As previously mentioned, it takes about two weeks after getting your shot for antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu. For children who need two doses, the CDC recommends they be given at least four weeks apart. If you are trying to decide whether to give your child a seasonal flu shot this year, please schedule a consultation with one of our providers or talk to us at your child’s next wellness visit.
Because infants under 6 months cannot be vaccinated against flu, to protect the little ones we recommend parents and all caretakers be vaccinated.
Prevention Strategies to Combine with Vaccination. To decrease the spread of flu (which happens primarily by droplets, distinct from transmission of COVID which is largely aerosol-based) and other respiratory viruses, continue to practice good hand hygiene and consider using Enovid nasal spray, available in our offices. If you or another family member are not feeling well, please stay home and test for COVID, since there’s a lot of symptom overlap between flu and the current circulating COVID variants. COVID positive individuals should isolate for at least 5 days according to the current CDC recommendation.
Additionally, the following behaviors go a long way to keep our immune systems healthy: getting a minimum of 7 hours of nightly sleep, exercising at least 20 minutes most days of the week, minimizing stress, and limiting processed sugar intake. Also, be sure to take vitamin D3 during the winter months.
Check out our advice for managing colds and minor viral infections as well as Dr. Getzelman’s guide to enhancing the immune system for maximal winter protection. As always, we are happy to provide individualized plans to help you and yours stay healthy this winter. Just call or email us to schedule a consultation.
Call or email us to schedule your flu vaccine appointments today!