Since then, we've enjoyed flu-free years, a blessing even for the young-and-healthy. This year, with the loss of half of the U.S. flu vaccine supply due to the Chiron debacle, it seems prudent to leave the remaining supply for those who need it most (source: Centers for Disease Control):
- People 65 years of age and older
- Children ages 6 months to 23 months
- Adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic lung or heart disorders including heart disease and asthma
- Pregnant women
- Adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes), kidney diseases, blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia), or weakened immune systems, including persons with HIV/AIDS
- Children and teenagers, 6 months to 18 years of age, who take aspirin daily
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
- Household members and out-of-home caregivers of infants under the age of 6 months (Children under the age of 6 months cannot be vaccinated.
- Healthcare workers who provide direct, hands-on care to patients
It appears that we are both too young and too old. We're not qualified for the FluMist™ vaccine (live, attenuated influenza vaccine), which is not recommended for
- persons aged <5 years or those aged >50 years;
- persons with asthma, reactive airways disease or other chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems; persons with other underlying medical conditions, including such metabolic diseases as diabetes, renal dysfunction, and hemoglobinopathies; or persons with known or suspected immunodeficiency diseases or who are receiving immunosuppressive therapies;
- children or adolescents receiving aspirin or other salicylates (because of the association of Reye syndrome with wild-type influenza infection);
- persons with a history of GBS;
- pregnant women; or
- persons with a history of hypersensitivity, including anaphylaxis, to any of the components of LAIV or to eggs.
We could probably get the regular vaccine if we tried hard enough. Yesterday, our local Publix was still handing out flyers advertising its vaccine program, and I gather that many non-medical sites are relying on people's own determination whether they need the immunization or not. But we are healthy, have no small children in the house to worry about, and have little exposure to schoolchildren (a highly-infectious population). Unless and until sufficient supply is available, it's better we abstain. My main concern will be for the people we visit this winter...not enough concern to stay home, however.
I understand that doctors' offices are being strict about who gets the vaccine and who doesn't, not trusting in people's general good sense and good will (probably with good reason). However, I will admit to hoping that the supply is sufficient to cover two additional populations:
- nursing mothers who would prefer to be their babies' primary source of immunization; and
- college students whose schedules make them both more vulnerable to infection and less able to handle disruption.