Most of you all know I will be flying a ton in September. I will visit ATL, CVG, DTW, MSP, GRR, LAX, LAS, MIA, EWR, PHX, AMS, DFW, SFO, GOT and a few more I think. Some of them I will visit several times. Yeah, I see lots of bumpertunites, that is, chances for oversold flights and getting a bump and a voucher for taking a later flight. But I also see chances for lots of sick people with all sorts of nasty bugs. And we all know planes are not all “that clean” right? The one thing I don’t want is to do all that flying sick as a dog! And not just for me, but I do not want to share a bug with my fellow flyers either.
So yesterday I started calling around to see if anyone in my area already had received this year’s flu vaccine shipments and the first two places basically said:
“You are WAY too early, check back late September.”
Well a fat lot of good that will do for me as I need one NOW as it takes a little while to build up full immunity. But then I called my local CVS (I mean I go there anyway now and then) and they said sure you will the 2nd person this season to get one from us. Sweet!
But this got me thinking about my annual flu shot. Is it a good idea? The CDC site has lots of info for us to consider, but I also reached out to Dr. Julien since he was so great to help with a much appreciated Sunday reader post. Here is what he shared with me.
Hi Dr. Julien, hey thanks for taking the time to help with this post.
Nice to hear from you René.
Do you get one each year yourself?
Yes. Flu vaccines are extremely safe as long as you’re not allergic to them or have a previous history of Guillain-Baré syndrome. Generally speaking, any healthcare provider offering flu shots should always go through a list of contraindications before injecting.
Some of the places I called here in Indiana seemed to indicate I was jumping the gun in getting my shot already. Can you get it too soon, that is too early? Is it better to wait?
No, the sooner the better. There is a two-week delay between injection and immunity. The CDC recommends to get vaccinated before the end of October.
Also, you might wanna know that there are two types of flu vaccines: trivalent and quadrivalent. Trivalent vaccines protect from three different strains (usually two A viruses and one B virus) and quadrivalent vaccines protect from four different strains (two A and two B). It’s impossible to know in advance which strains are going to be endemic in a specific region of the world. I would certainly encourage travelers to get a quadrivalent vaccine as they are more likely to encounter different types of flu viruses (as long as it doesn’t mean delaying your flu shot; in which case, simply go for a trivalent.) On the US market, French pharmaceutical Sanofi-Pasteur markets a quadrivalent vaccine called Fluzone whereas British competitor Glaxo-Smithkline markets Fluarix which is also quadrivalent. Both are single-dose injections with excellent records of safety. Also, Maryland-based pharmaceutical MedImmune offers an inhaled quadrivalent vaccine called FluMist. FluMist is an excellent option especially if you want to avoid an injection. However it is significantly more expensive and lots of insurance plans won’t cover it or might just cover it for children.
That is just what I needed to hear. Thanks so much for your input Dr. Julien and for being here for me and other Delta Points readers on the blog.
Happy to be of service René
Now clearly, even though Dr. Julien is an MD, you should always make your own decisions as to any kind of healthcare. Neither of us are telling you what to do. Having said that, I would love some reader feedback.
How many of you get a flu vaccine each year? Do you like to go as early as possible or before a long trip or flying internationally? Do you not get them for some reason? Please take the time to comment on the blog and share with us all! – René
PS – Be sure to enter to WIN 15,000 MQMs this week!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.