What’s New this Flu Season?


This season, the CDC advises that only injectable flu vaccines (flu shots) are recommended. Some flu shots protect against three flu viruses and some protect against four flu viruses.

Flu shot producers expect to make between 151 million and 166 million doses of vaccine this flu season. More than 148 million doses have been distributed already.

Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. In 2017, a study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza.

The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

A few things are new this season:

  • The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.
  • Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).
  • Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.
  • quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine (“Flublok Quadrivalent” RIV) is newly available this season. (Last season, only trivalent recombinant flu vaccine was available.)
  • A quadrivalent inactivated flu vaccine, “Afluria Quadrivalent” IIV, was licensed last season after the annual recommendations were published.
  • The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.
  • The trivalent formulation of Afluria is recommended for people 5 years and older (from 9 years and older) in order to match the Food and Drug Administration package insert.
  • For the first time, a cell-grown H3N2 vaccine reference virus was used to produce the H3N2 component of the cell-based vaccine, Flucelvax. (The remaining Flucelvax vaccine components were manufactured using egg-grown reference viruses.) For more information, see the questions: “Why is it significant that a cell-grown vaccine reference virus (H3N2) was used to produce flu vaccine?” and “Is flu vaccine made using a cell-grown reference virus and cell-based technology more effective than vaccine made using an egg-grown reference virus and egg-based technology?

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