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About Flu Vaccines

About Flu Vaccines

What are flu vaccinations?

Flu Vaccinations are one of the simplest and most effective ways of protecting your health, productivity and peace of mind. Whether you are a private individual concerned about avoiding an unpleasant illness and its complications, looking for the best care for you and your family, or a company concerned about business continuity and the health and welfare of your staff, we have the practical experience and the specialist expertise to help you.

What is the difference between a Trivalent and a Quadrivalent vaccine?

Every flu season there are different flu strains that circulate. Flu strains can mutate which is why the composition of flu vaccinations change every year.

In advance of each flu season, the World Health Organisation uses all available laboratory data from around the world to predict the likely predominating strains, and to direct vaccine manufacturers on the best choice of strains to include in their vaccines.

In the past, vaccine manufacturers were only able to include three strains in each season’s vaccine (Trivalent vaccines). The trivalent vaccine includes two types of flu A strain and one of flu B, while the Quadrivalent includes two types of A and two B strains (available since 2013).

A number of manufacturers have started to produce Quadrivalent vaccines, covering all four strains. During the 2018-2019 flu season the following strains included in the vaccinations are:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09–like virus,  up
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Colorado/06/2017–like virus (Victoria lineage)

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines will contain these three viruses and an additional influenza B vaccine virus:

  • B/Phuket/3073/2013–like virus (Yamagata lineage)

How effective are flu vaccines?

Now that the Northern Hemisphere flu season has passed, we know the predominating strains in the UK were the second and fourth strains from the above list: the H3N2 and the B/Yamagata like B/Phuket strains.

The Quadrivalent vaccine has proved to be partially effective against the H3N2 strain, but highly effective against the 4th strain, which is caused approximately 60% of clinical cases. The number of cases that occurred in the UK approached “outbreak” levels, and certainly caused significant concern – which raised questions about whether the Quadrivalent vaccine should have been used more widely in the NHS and at a national level. As a result of the 2017 /2018 season Public Health England have made the following recommendations for this year:

  • Quadrivalent vaccinations to be offered to 18 – 64 year olds
  • Nasal spray quadrivalent vaccines offered to under 18’s
  • Adjuvaned trivalent for those aged 65 and over.

Read notice from Public Health England here.

Flu is unpredictable and it is impossible to know which strains will circulate each season and so we have to use our best judgement about which vaccines to offer. Vaccination still remains the best defence against flu. At the Fleet Street Clinic, we have consistently supported use of the Quadrivalent vaccine, on the basis that it significantly increases the probability of good protection.

When do you have a flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is normally given as early as possible in the autumn, and protection lasts through the winter and beyond, though because of mutation, “drift”, and other changes in the circulating viral strains, new vaccines are generally needed each year.

What flu vaccine would you recommend?

Alongside Public Health England, to ensure you have the best level of protection available our recommendations for this year are as follows:

  • Quadrivalent vaccinations to be offered to 18 – 64 year olds
  • Nasal spray quadrivalent vaccines offered to under 18’s
  • Adjuvaned trivalent for those aged 65 and over.

The Fleet Street clinic have been at the forefront of recommending the 4-strain Quadrivalent flu vaccination to patients since its introduction to the market. Whether you are an individual, or representing a corporate client or a parent seeking a flu vaccination for you and your family we are committed to offering you the broadest and best choice of flu vaccinations.

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