An influenza vaccine protects you against the flu. A new form of the flu vaccine needs to be made each year to protect you against the exact strains that are expected to be most common.
Vaccine - influenza; Immunization - influenza; Flu shot; Flu vaccine
The flu is a respiratory disease that spreads easily. It is caused by an influenza virus. Thousands of people in the U.S. die each year from the flu or its complications. Most of those who die are the elderly, young children, or people with weakened immune system.
There are two types of flu vaccines: a flu shot and a nasal spray.
Flu vaccines are generally given at the beginning of the flu season. This is usually around October in the U.S. However, they may be given as late as March, and still provide some benefit.
People traveling to other countries should be aware that the flu may occur at different times of the year from the U.S.
WHO SHOULD GET THE VACCINE
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine. Some people are more likely to get the flu or to have a severe infection if they catch it. People at risk of more serious flu infections should always get a flu vaccine every year. The CDC recommends extra effort to vaccinate the following people:
Persons 9 years and older need a single flu shot each year. Children 6 months to 8 years old should get two shots at least 1 month apart if they are getting the flu vaccine for the first time. Be sure to ask your child’s doctor for more specific information.
Most people are protected from the flu about 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine.
RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS
Most people have no side effects from the flu shot. Soreness at the injection site or minor aches and low grade fever may be present for several days.
As is the case with any drug or vaccine, there is a rare possibility of allergic reaction.
The regular seasonal flu shot has been shown to be safe for pregnant women and their babies.
Normal side effects of the nasal spray flu vaccine include fever, headache, runny nose, vomiting, and some wheezing. Although these symptoms sound like symptoms of the flu, the side effects do not become a severe or life-threatening flu infection.
WHO SHOULD NOT GET THE VACCINE
Some people should not be vaccinated without first talking to their doctor. The vaccine is not approved for people under 6 months of age. In general, you should not get a flu shot if you:
If any of the above applies to you, ask your doctor if a flu vaccine is safe for you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prevention and Control of Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2012. MMWR. 2012 Aug 17;61(32):613-618.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years and Older-- United States, 2013. Available http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/mmwr-adult-schedule.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years-- United States, 2013. Available http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/child/mmwr-0-18yrs-catchup-schedule.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2013.