Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness that can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes death.
Types of vaccines:
- The "flu shot" – an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) is given with a needle, usually in the arm. It is approved for use:
- in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine – a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. It is approved for use:
- in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
- The high-dose flu vaccine - a flu shot containing four times more virus pieces than the regular flu vaccine. It intends to give older people a better immune response, but side effects can be more common. It is approved for use:
- in people over 65 years of age.
Who should get vaccinated?
- Adults and children who are 6 months of age and older
- This includes:
- Anyone 65 years and older
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Adults and children 6 months and older who needed regular medical care or were in a hospital during the previous year because of
- a metabolic disease (like diabetes)
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic respiratory disease
- chronic cardiac disease
- weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS])
- Any person in close contact with someone in a high-risk group, including all health-care workers, adult and child caregivers.
Who should not be vaccinated?
There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of getting a previous influenza vaccine.
- Influenza vaccine is not approved for use in children less than 6 months of age.
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
When should I get my flu shot?
The best time to get a flu shot is in September or October. The flu season usually peaks between December and February. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
The effectiveness depends on the age and health of the person getting the vaccine, and the "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation.
Vaccine side effects
From the flu shot:
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur include:
- Soreness redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.
From the flu mist:
The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness.
Side Effects for Children
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
Side Effects for Adults
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Will a flu vaccine prevent stomach flu?
The flu is a respiratory illness. You cannot have a "stomach flu." Symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are not common flu symptoms, except in very young children.
Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ or http://www.immunize.org/vis/2flu.pdf
Where to get a flu shot
Banner Health is urging people to protect themselves and their families by getting a flu shot. Every year, on average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population get the flu; about 36,000 people die from it.
Visit one of our Urgent Care locations to get your flu shot.