Provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. There are two types of flu vaccines: the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine.
- 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 older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
- 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"). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
When to get vaccinated
October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but you can still get vaccinated in December and later. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
Who should get vaccinated
The ACIP suggests that people who are at high risk of having flu complications, or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications should get vaccinated each year. ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.
High risk for complications from the flu:
- Children 6 months to 5 years old
- Pregnant women
- People 50 and older
- People with chronic medical conditions
- Nursing-home residents and residents of other long-term care facilities
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
- A reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
- Developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting the flu vaccine
- A moderate or severe illness with a fever
Vaccine side effects
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 are:
- Soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given
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. People who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness.
In children, side effects from LAIV may include:
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
In adults, side effects from LAIV may include:
- Runny nose
- Sore Throat
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