Flu Vaccine Questions and Answers


How do flu vaccines work?

Flu Shots use inactivated (not live) viruses and are designed to provoke the immune system to attack antigens found on the surface of the virus. (Antigens are foreign molecules that the immune system specifically recognizes as alien and targets for attack.)

The nasal spray-type flu vaccine uses a live, weakened virus instead of a dead one like the flu shot. The vaccine helps support the specific immune factors in the mucous membranes of the nose that fight off the actual viral infections.

Source: http://www.walgreens.com/marketing/library/contents.html?docid=000094&doctype=10

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Will my doctor be notified if I get a flu shot at Walgreens so I can keep my medical records in one place?

We're happy to send your doctor a copy of your immunization record. Just let us know.

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Does Walgreens accept insurance for flu shots?

Yes. Walgreens accepts most insurance plans. If you have Medicare Part B, you'll have no out-of-pocket cost.*

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After I get a flu shot, how long does it typically take to become fully protected?

The vaccine takes approximately two weeks to protect against prevalent flu strains.

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Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone aged 6 months and over should get a flu vaccine; the only exception is for those who are allergic to the vaccine. It is especially important in the following groups, who are at a high risk for complications from the flu:

  • People who are 50 or more years of age
  • People who are 6 to 49 months of age
  • People who have chronic lung disease, including asthma and COPD, or heart disease
  • People who are 18 years old or younger AND taking long-term aspirin therapy
  • People who have sickle cell anemia or other hemoglobin-related disorders
  • People who have kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, or chronic liver disease
  • People who have a weakened immune system (including those with cancer or HIV/AIDS)
  • People who receive long-term treatment with steroids for any condition
  • Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during the flu season. Women who are pregnant should receive only the inactivated flu vaccine. (Vaccinations should usually be given after the first trimester. Exceptions may be women who are in their first trimester during flu season, because their risk from complications of the flu is higher than any theoretical risk to the baby from the vaccine.)

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Will a flu shot protect me from getting a cold?

According to the CDC, the flu vaccine does not provide protection against non-flu viruses that can cause colds and other respiratory illnesses.

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Which influenza strains does this season's flu vaccine provide protection against?

  • The 2014-2015 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from the following three viruses:
    • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
    • an A(H3N2) virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011;
    • a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
  • The quadrivalent vaccines contains the above three viruses and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

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Is this season's flu shot the same as last season's?

Yes, the contents of the vaccine remain the same as last season. It is crucial that everyone gets vaccinated every season as immunity wears off. The best way to protect yourself is to get an annual flu vaccine.

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Is it possible to get vaccinated too early in the season?

No, the CDC recommends receiving a flu shot as soon as vaccine is available to ensure you are protected.


Why do I need a flu shot every season?

A flu vaccine is needed every season because flu viruses are constantly changing. It's not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each season. The flu vaccine is formulated each season to keep up with the flu viruses as they change.

Also, multiple studies conducted over different seasons have shown that the body's immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. Getting vaccinated each season provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season.

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What kind of vaccines will be available for the 2014-2015 Flu Season?

A number of different flu formulations will be available during the 2014-2015 flu season.

  • Trivalent vaccine
    • Egg based
      • Intramuscular and Intradermal formulations
      • High dose for patients 65 y/o and older
    • Cell based
    • Recombinant DNA based
  • Quadrivalent vaccine
    • Injectable
    • Intranasal

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What is Fluzone High Dose?

Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is the only influenza vaccine designed specifically for patients 65 years of age and older.

By improving the production of antibodies in older patients, it may help provide a stronger immune response to influenza than traditional vaccines. This is critical for older patients who are at greater risk of flu-related complications.

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How is the new Quadrivalent vaccine different from the standard flu vaccine?

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of quadrivalent (four-virus) flu vaccines, which offer protection against four different influenza viruses: two A viruses and two B viruses.

Since the early 1980s the standard flu vaccine has been trivalent (three-virus). Trivalent means the vaccine protects against three different influenza viruses: two A viruses and one B virus.

The seasonal influenza vaccine already included one influenza B virus. Having another B virus in the quadrivalent vaccine, it may provide people with broader protection against the influenza B viruses that circulate and cause illness each flu season.

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Are Walgreens pharmacists really experts when it comes to flu shots?

Absolutely! Each Walgreens pharmacist goes through an extensive training program to be able to provide immunization services.

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I heard there was an immunization assessment, what is this and how much does it cost?

The free Walgreens immunization assessment is conducted by the pharmacist when you get your flu shot. It is designed to help determine which other immunizations may be right for you, based on your immunization, age and overall health history.

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