Influenza is a serious disease, and people of any age can get it. In an average year, the flu causes 36,000 DEATHS (mostly among those 65 and older) and more than 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States. An annual flu vaccine is the single most effective way to prevent the flu.
Who should be vaccinated?
It is recommended for anyone who is at risk of complications from influenza or more likely to require medical care:
· All children from 6 months to 5 years of age
· Anyone 50 years of age or older
· Women who will be pregnant during influenza season
· Anyone with long term health problems
· Anyone with a weakened immune system
· Residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
It is also recommended for anyone who lives with or cares for people at high risk for influenza related complications:
· Health Care Providers
· Household contacts and caregivers of children from birth to 5 years of age
· Household contacts and caregivers of people 50 years and older, and those with medical conditions that put them at risk for severe complications from influenza.
EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT IN A HIGH RISK YOU CAN SPREAD THE INFLUENZA VIRUS TO OTHERS!!
Does the flu vaccine work right away?
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the influenza virus infection.
Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu every year?
Flu viruses change from year to year, which means two things. First, you can get the flu more than once during your lifetime. Second, a vaccine made against flu viruses circulating last year may not protect against newer viruses. That is why the influenza vaccine is updated to include current viruses every year.
How safe is the vaccine?
Influenza vaccine is very safe. The most common side effects of the vaccine include soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of injection. These reactions are temporary and occur in 15-20% of recipients. Less than 1% develop symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle aches. Experiencing these non-specific side effects does not mean that you are getting the flu. Serious adverse reactions to the vaccine are very rare. Such reactions are most likely the result of an allergy to a vaccine component, such as the egg protein left in the vaccine after growing the virus.