Flu season is fast approaching and most Reptrax members will be required to get vaccinated against the influenza virus by October 1, 2013 in order to be compliant with their healthcare facilities’ requirements. But if you received a flu shot last year, why do you need another one? Why doesn’t a flu vaccine last for more than one year or even a lifetime like so many other vaccinations?
Flu season is fast approaching and most Reptrax members will be required to get vaccinated against the influenza virus by October 1, 2013 in order to be compliant with their healthcare facilities’ requirements. But if you received a flu shot last year, why do you need another one? Why doesn’t a flu vaccine last for more than one year or even a lifetime like so many other vaccinations?
The answer lies in a process called antigenic drift, one of the primary ways the flu virus changes. To drift is to move slowly away from the normal or original position. The same thing is happening with the flu virus. The virus is slowly changing over time creating new varieties that are not recognized by your body’s immune system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], the process works as follows: “a person infected with a particular flu virus strain develops antibody against that virus. As newer virus strains appear, the antibodies against the older strains no longer recognize the ‘newer’ virus, and reinfection can occur. This is one of the main reasons why people can get the flu more than one time.”

The recommended influenza vaccine is updated every year to reflect the changes in the circulating flu viruses. The CDC considers annual vaccination to be the most important measure to prevent the spread of seasonal influenza infection in healthcare settings. So, in order to protect their patient populations, most hospitals and other healthcare facilities require their staff as well as vendor representatives to get a new flu shot each year. Significant changes are required for the upcoming 2013-2014 flu vaccine. To learn more, read our June 3, 2013 blog post.


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