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Flu Vaccination

Flu Vaccination:

Flu vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of infection (common flu) caused by the influenza virus. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against the influenza virus. This method of stimulating the normal immune system to be directed against a specific microbe is called immunization. Flu vaccination is also referred to as influenza immunization. Flu vaccination does not protect against infection caused by microbes other than the influenza virus.

Who should receive the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is generally recommended for persons in the following groups:

  • Adults 65 years of age and older.
  • Residents of nursing homes or other facilities for patients with chronic medical conditions.
  • Women who will be in their 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy during the flu season.
  • Persons 6 months to 18 years of age receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
  • Groups, including household members and care givers, who can infect high risk persons.
  • Depending on season and destination, persons traveling to foreign countries should consider vaccination (at least 2 weeks in advance).
  • Any person > 6 months of age who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza should be vaccinated.
Annual influenza immunization is recommended for healthy children between 6 and 24 months of age, for household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of all children younger than 24 months of age, and for health care professionals. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics made this recommendation in 2003 and 2004, respectively.)

How is the flu vaccine administered?

The flu vaccine is administered as a single dose of 0.5 mL of liquid injected through the skin into muscle (intramuscular or IM). Typically the injection is into the deltoid muscle at the side of the arm, using alcohol rubbed over the skin for sterilization. The vaccine is given annually, each fall.

How soon does the vaccine begin working?

The vaccine is generally effective against the influenza virus within two weeks of the injection. The vaccine is only effective against the strains of the virus that match the vaccine. These strains vary from flu season to flu season each year. This is the reason that revaccination is required annually with the vaccine that matches the strains of influenza that are currently prevalent.

What side effects can occur with flu vaccination?

Side effects of flu vaccination are not common. Side effects include soreness at the site of the injection, muscle aching, fever, and feeling unwell. Very rarely serious allergic reactions have been reported.

Who should not receive the flu vaccine?

Those that should avoid the flu vaccine include:

  • Persons with a history of allergy reactions to eggs.
  • Those with a history of hypersensitivity to the vaccine.
  • Those with recent fever illness.
Subsequent vaccination should be avoided for persons known to have developed the rare nerve disease Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of a previous vaccination. However, for most persons with a Guillain-Barre syndrome history who are at high risk for severe complications, many experts believe the established benefits of vaccination justify yearly vaccination.
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