Get Your Flu Vaccine: Stay Healthy This
is unpredictable and can be severe. In the United States between 5% and
20% of the population gets the flu each flu season. It's estimated that
more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized from flu-related
complications on average each season, including 20,000 children younger
than 5 years old. CDC estimates that flu-associated deaths in the U.S.
ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people
between 1976 and 2006.
CDC recommends a
three-step approach to protect against the flu:
- Take time to get a flu vaccine;
- Take everyday preventive actions to stop
the spread of germs (including frequent hand washing and staying home
when sick); and
- Take flu antiviral drugs when your doctor
Getting a flu vaccine is easy, and it is the
first and most important step you can take in protecting yourself and
your loved ones from flu. There are any number of places where you can
get your vaccine, including your local health department, vaccination
clinics, doctors' offices, retail pharmacies, and some schools and
workplaces. For a list of flu vaccination clinics near you, visit the flu
Flu vaccines for this season are already
available in many communities and CDC recommends that everyone 6 months
and older get vaccinated. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can start
early or run late, and the flu vaccine provides protection that lasts
through a full flu season. You can get vaccinated as soon as vaccine
becomes available in your community.
Prevent Flu Illness
Influenza vaccines are used to prevent flu illness. There are two kinds
of flu vaccine: the flu shot and a flu nasal spray vaccine. These
vaccines cannot give you the flu because they are made from killed or
weakened influenza viruses.
Most people generally do not experience any
side effects after getting a flu vaccine. When side effects do occur,
they are generally mild and include redness and soreness at the
injection site for the flu shot, and occasionally sore throat, runny
nose and rarely fever after the nasal spray vaccine. Headache or body
aches after vaccination occur rarely. While these symptoms can be
uncomfortable and inconvenient, these symptoms are mild and resolve
quickly when compared to a bad case of the flu.
Once vaccinated, the body needs two weeks to
produce antibodies for protection against the flu. All adults and most
children need only 1 dose of flu vaccine a year, but some children will
need 2 doses.
Who Should Get the
Seasonal Flu Vaccine?
Everyone! For the first time, all
people 6 months and older are recommended for annual influenza
vaccination. This year's flu vaccine will protect against three viruses
(an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so
much illness last season).
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each
flu season, it's especially important that people in the following
groups get vaccinated, either because they are at high risk of having
serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for
people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Pregnant women (any trimester)
- Children younger than 5, but especially
children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives, who
last flu season seemed to be at higher risk of flu complications
- People of any age with certain chronic
- People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass
Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater)
- People who live in nursing homes and
other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at
high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high
risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home
caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are
too young to be vaccinated)
Types of Flu Vaccines
There are two types of flu vaccine available.
- The "flu shot" — an inactivated
vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually
in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age
and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical
conditions, and pregnant women.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a
vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu
(sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine" or
FluMist®). LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49
years of age who are not pregnant.
*"Healthy" indicates persons who do
not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to
Symptoms of Flu
Symptoms of flu can include:
*It's important to note that not
everyone with flu will have a fever.
- Fever* or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and
diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
For more information visit, www.cdc.gov/flu/