Influenza Virus Vaccine
(Fluvirin) 1996-97 formula
It seems everywhere lately I have seen free or cheap flu
shots advertised. Considering a flu shot? Consider the following:
According to the package insert: "The effectiveness of influenza vaccine in
preventing or attenuating illness varies, depending primarily on the age and
immunocompetence of the vaccine recipient and the degree of similarity between the virus
strains included in the vaccine and those that circulate during the influenza
season....influenza vaccine has been shown to prevent illness in approximately 70% of
healthy persons less than 65 years of age...efficacy in preventing influenza illness may
often be in the range of 30%-40% among the frail elderly... safety and efficacy in
children between the ages 6 months through 4 years has not been established. TARGET GROUPS
for influenza vaccination: Persons 65 yrs. of age or older.. .patients of any age with
chronic medical conditions...children with asthma. Some persons at high risk (e.g. the
elderly, transplant recipients, and persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) can
have low antibody response to influenza vaccine. Efforts to protect these members of high
risk groups against influenza may be improved by reducing the likelihood of influenza
exposure from their caregivers. Therefore, the following groups should be immunized: 1.
Physicians, nurses, and of personnel....2.Employees of nursing homes and chronic -care
facilities...3. Providers of home care to persons at high risk...2. Household members of
persons in high risk groups...IMMUNIZATION OF OTHER GROUPS...General population...Pregnant
women...The ACIP... states that pregnant women who have medical conditions that increase
their risk for complications from influenza should be vaccinated... Controlled studies on
influenza vaccine have not been conducted to demonstrate safety in pregnant women...
Persons infected with HIV...limited information exists regarding... influenza illness
among HIV infected persons... reports suggest... symptoms may be prolonged and the risk of
Complications increased for some HIV infected persons... Patients who have advanced
HIV...may not induce protective antibody titers... a second vaccine does not improve the
immune response for these persons... some studies have demonstrated a (2-4 week) increase
in replication of HIV-1 in... HIV infected persons after vaccine administration...
vaccination will benefit many HIV infected patients.... CONTRAINDICATIONS...Since the
likelihood of febrile convulsions from any cause is greater in children between 6 and 35
months, special care should be taken in weighting the relative risks and benefits of
immunization in this age group...ADVERSE REACTIONS...Respiratory disease after vaccination
represents coincidental illness unrelated to influenza vaccination... As with any vaccine,
immunization with influenza virus vaccine may not result in seroconversion of all
individuals given the vaccine...Each recipient must be made aware of the benefits and
risks of immunization and informed consent should be obtained from the recipient (or legal
guardian) before immunization. Risks...are summarized in the current labeling. PLEASE
CONTACT CDC, or your local State Department of Health to obtain important information
about influenza and a sample influenza consent form."
This is just and excerpt of some of the information available on the package insert.
The package insert also includes a list of references. In particular, I found it
interesting that the target groups for receiving the Flu Shot are the very ones who are
least likely to produce antibodies, such as the elderly and those with HIV, according to
the package insert. Another statement that stuck out to me was that "Respiratory
disease after vaccination...represents coincidental illness" If I were considering
the flu shot, that would raise suspicion.
Always ask for the package insert, or, if that is not available, to see the PDR
(Physicians Desk Reference) before administering medication of any kind to yourself or
your children. We are compiling a file of vaccine package inserts. Would you ask your
doctor for one the next time you have a visit? Let us
know if you have one to send in.