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:
- 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.
Who should get vaccinated?
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
- All children 6 to 23 months of age
- Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma
- 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
- weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS])
- Children 6 months to 18 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy.
- People with respiratory problems.
- People 50 to 64 years of age. Nearly one-third of people in this age group have medical conditions that place them at increased risk for serious flu complications.
- 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 October or November. The flu season usually peaks between January and March. 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