Influenza Season & Universal Vaccination Recommendation
Influenza is unpredictable, but every season, flu causes illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. The first and more important step in protecting against the flu is to get a flu vaccination each season. Getting a flu vaccine is easy and safe. Flu vaccines have a very good safety history. The flu vaccine provides protection that lasts through the flu season.
A flu vaccine reduces your risk of illness, hospitalization, or even death and can prevent you spreading the virus to your loved ones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hold vaccines to the highest safety standards. The safety of flu vaccines is closely monitored with long-established systems that have demonstrated their usefulness in detecting vaccine safety problems. See http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/safety/.
You need to get the seasonal flu vaccine every year, even if you got the flu vaccine last season.
This season, there is a universal recommendation for influenza vaccination. This means that everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to be vaccinated against influenza. This recommendation will result in the protection of the greatest numbers of people possible from influenza. While there is a universal vaccination recommendation this season, it’s continues to be especially important that people at increased risk of serious flu complications get vaccinated against the flu. This includes:
Notes on protecting children from influenza
Because children younger than 6 months of age are too young for influenza vaccination, but are one of the groups at highest risk of influenza-related hospitalization, vaccination of household contacts and caregivers of young children is recommended to reduce their risk of influenza illness. In addition, research shows that vaccination of pregnant women not only protects the mothers against influenza, but also reduces the risk of influenza illness in their babies during the first 6 months of life.
CDC recommends that children younger than 9 years of age who have never received a seasonal flu vaccine get two doses of vaccine spaced at least 4 weeks apart. Two doses given at least 4 weeks apart are recommended for children aged 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting a flu vaccine for the first time. Children who only got 1 dose in their first year of vaccination should get 2 doses the following year.
All children 6 months up through 8 years of age getting a flu vaccine for the first time need two doses, at least 4 weeks apart, the first year they are vaccinated in order to develop immune protection. For more information about the seriousness of influenza and the benefits of vaccination, talk to your doctor or nurse, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/, or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.
The flu shot (also called inactivated influenza vaccine) cannot give you the flu. It is comprised of killed viruses. Most people generally do not experience any side effects from the flu shot. When they do occur, they are usually mild. The most common side effects from the flu shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot is given.
The nasal spray vaccine is approved for use in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant. The nasal spray vaccine cannot give you the flu. It is made from weakened flu viruses that can only infect the nasal passages. Most people don’t have any side effects. When side effects do occur they tend to be mild, for example runny nose, cough, or nasal congestion.
The Health Department will carry the Fluzone High-Dose (manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc.) for people age 65 and older Fluzone High-Dose vaccines contain four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in the person getting the vaccine.
Whether or not the improved immune response leads to greater protection against influenza disease after vaccination is not yet known. CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu; however, neither CDC nor ACIP is expressing a preference of one vaccine over another at this time.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/, or call CDC at 800-CDC-INFO.