Influenza Vaccine

Influenza vaccines, also known as flu shots or flu jabs, are vaccines that protect against infection by Influenza viruses. A new version of the vaccine is developed twice a year, as the Influenza virus rapidly changes. While their effectiveness varies from year to year, most provide modest to high protection against influenza. The CDC estimates that vaccination against influenza reduces sickness, medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. When an immunized worker does catch the flu, they are on average back at work a half day sooner. Vaccine effectiveness in those under two years old and over 65 years old remains unknown due to the low quality of the research. Vaccinating children may protect those around them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend yearly vaccination for nearly all people over the age of six months, especially those at high risk. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also recommends yearly vaccination of high risk groups. These groups include pregnant women, the elderly, children between six months and five years of age, those with other health problems, and those who work in healthcare.

The vaccines are generally safe. Fever occurs in five to ten percent of children vaccinated. Temporary muscle pains or feelings of tiredness may occur as well. In certain years, the vaccine has been linked to an increase in Guillain–Barré syndrome among older people at a rate of about one case per million doses. It should not be given to those with severe allergies to eggs or to previous versions of the vaccine. The vaccines come in both inactive and weakened viral forms. The inactive version should be used for those who are pregnant. They come in forms that are injected into a muscle, sprayed into the nose, or injected into the middle layer of the skin.

Pneumonia Vaccine

Pneumococcal vaccines are vaccines against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. Their use can prevent some cases of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: conjugate vaccines and polysaccharide vaccines. They are given by injection either into a muscle or just under the skin.

The World Health Organization recommends the use of the conjugate vaccine in the routine immunizations given to children. This includes those with HIV/AIDS. The recommended three or four doses are between 71 and 93% effective at preventing severe pneumococcal disease. The polysaccharide vaccines, while effective in healthy adults, are not effective in children less than two years old or those with poor immune function.

These vaccines are generally safe. With the conjugate vaccine about 10% of babies develop redness at the site of injection, fever, or change in sleep. Severe allergies are very rare.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B vaccine is a vaccine that prevents hepatitis B. The first dose is recommended within 24 hours of birth with either two or three more doses given after that. This includes those with poor immune function such as from HIV/AIDS and those born premature. It is also recommended for health-care workers to be vaccinated. In healthy people routine immunization results in more than 95% of people being protected.

Blood testing to verify that the vaccine has worked is recommended in those at high risk. Additional doses may be needed in people with poor immune function but are not necessary for most people. In those who have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus but not immunized, hepatitis B immune globulin should be given in addition to the vaccine. The vaccine is given by injection into a muscle.

Serious side effects from the hepatitis B vaccine are very uncommon. Pain may occur at the site of injection. It is safe for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It has not been linked to Guillain–Barré syndrome. The current vaccines are produced with recombinant DNA techniques. They are available both by themselves and in combination with other vaccines.

T-DAP Vaccine

On June 10, 2005, a tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) was licensed in the United States for use in adults and adolescents. The lower case “d” and “p” indicated smaller concentrations of diphtheria toxoids and pertussis antigens, and “a” in “ap” indicates that the pertussis toxoids are acellular. Two Tdap vaccines are available in the U.S. Adacel, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, is licensed for use in adults ages 11 to 64. Boostrix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, is licensed for use in adolescents and adults ages 10 to 64. In January 2011, the U.S.’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended Tdap’s use in adults of all ages, including those age 65 and above. In October 2011, in an effort to reduce the burden of pertussis in infants, the ACIP recommended that unvaccinated pregnant women receive a dose of Tdap. On October 24, 2012, the ACIP voted to recommend use of Tdap during every pregnancy.

The U.S.’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that both adolescents and adults receive Tdap in place of their next Td booster (recommended to be given every 10 years). Tdap and Td can be used as prophylaxis for tetanus in wound management. People who will be in contact with young infants are encouraged to get Tdap even if it has been less than 5 years since Td or TT to reduce the risk of infants being exposed to pertussis. The ACIP statement on Tdap use in adolescents encourages 5 years between Td and Tdap to reduce the risk of side effects; however, both suggest that shorter intervals may be appropriate in some circumstances, such as for protection in pertussis outbreaks. NACI suggests intervals shorter than 5 years can be used for catch-up programs and other instances where programmatic concerns make 5-year intervals difficult.