The swine flu pandemic is officially over but the seasonal flu is just starting as we face the coming of the winter months. We will be bringing you regular updates about seasonal influenza.
Here are some seasonal flu updates for you this week.
Kmart Pharmacy kicks off flu prevention program
If you are into seasonal flu vaccine, then you might want to check Kmart Pharmacy’s more than 900 walk-in flu clinics. The clinics will be open through Nov. 15 to sell seasonal flu shots (free Medicare Part B members) that will be administered by a trained practitioner. According to a Kmart statement:
“Following a 2009 flu season that saw significant outbreaks, including the H1N1 virus, Kmart Pharmacy is encouraging customers to get their vaccinations early in the season, especially since there is an incubation period before becoming fully effective. The Kmart Pharmacy walk-in flu clinics are family friendly, have knowledgeable on-site pharmacists that can answer flu- and health-related questions, and carry a range of supplies to help customers stay healthy during the winter season.”
Take note that this is not an endorsement!
So what’s in that flu shot anyway? Well, the cocktail varies from year to year just as the flu virus strains change from flu season to flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how flu vaccines selection is done. “The seasonal flu vaccine is a trivalent vaccine (a three component vaccine) with each component selected to protect against one of the three main groups of influenza viruses circulating in humans.” The components are selected based on the circulating strains of the previous flu season in both northern and southern hemisphere. The selected viral strains are weakened or killed and incorporated into the new vaccine. Here are the 3 strains included in the Northern Hemisphere’s 2010–2011 seasonal influenza vaccine:
Maternal influenza vaccination may be associated with flu protection in infants
A flu shot for mommy during pregnancy seems to extend protection to the unborn baby that tracks through even 6 months after delivery, according to a recent study. This is good news since babies under 6 months are not eligible for the flu shot. The authors wrote:
“Influenza virus infection in infants is generally more frequent among those aged 6 to 12 months than in the first six months of life, potentially owing to the protection conferred by maternal influenza antibodies acquired transplacentally or through breastfeeding. However, during severe influenza seasons, morbidity and mortality rates among infants younger than 6 months have been reported to exceed those of older infants.”