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An influenza vaccine protects people against the flu. A new form of the flu vaccine needs to be developed most years to protect people against the exact strains that are expected to be most common.
Vaccine - influenza; Immunization - influenza; Flu shot; Flu vaccine
The flu is a contagious respiratory disease 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 compromised immune systems. For more information about flu symptoms and treatment, see: Flu
The flu vaccine that will be given during the fall and winter of 2011 - 2012 will also protect you against swine (H1N1) flu. There is no separate vaccine for swine flu.
There are two types of flu vaccines: a flu shot and a nasal spray vaccine.
Flu vaccines are generally given at the beginning of the "flu season" -- usually late October or early November 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 for more serious flu infections should always get a flu vaccine every year. Thus, the CDC recommends extra efforts to vaccinate people in the following groups:
Older children and adults only require a single shot each year. However, children under age 9 need two shots 1 month apart the first time they receive flu vaccine or if they have not previously received two doses during one flu season.
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. 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.
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 RECEIVE A FLU 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 you meet any of the above criteria, ask your doctor if a flu vaccine is safe for you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prevention and Control ofI nfluenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. MMWR. 2011 Aug 26;60:1128-32.