Influenza or flu is a contagious disease caused by influenza viruses, and is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing, and close contact.
It is important that children, especially infants and young children, receive recommended immunizations on time. Vaccines also protect teenagers and adults to keep them healthy throughout their lives.
Influenza or flu is a contagious disease caused by influenza viruses, and is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing, and close contact. Flu happens suddenly and can last for several days. Symptoms may vary by age, but can include:
- fever with chills
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- runny or stuffy nose
Flu can also lead to pneumonia and blood infections, and cause diarrhea and seizures in children. Flu can make worse your medical condition, such as heart or lung disease if you have any. Flu can be more serious for some people. Infants and young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions or a weakened immune system are at greatest risk.
Inactivated Flu vaccine can:
- prevent flu
- make flu less severe if you do get it
- keep you from spreading flu to your family and other people
Inactivated and recombinant flu vaccines:
Every flu season, a dose of flu vaccine is recommended. Children of age 6 months through 8 years may need two doses during the same flu season. Everyone else needs only one dose each flu season. Some inactivated flu vaccines contain a very small amount of a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal. But flu vaccines that do not contain thimerosal are also available.
There are many flu viruses which are always changing. A new flu vaccine is made each year to protect against three or four viruses that are likely to cause disease in the upcoming flu season. But even when the vaccine does not exactly match these viruses, it may still provide some protection.
It takes about 2 weeks to develop the protection after vaccination, and protection lasts through the flu season. Flu vaccine cannot prevent:
- flu that is caused by a virus not covered by the vaccine
- illnesses that look like flu but are not
The flu vaccine contains either inactivated (killed) flu viruses or no flu viruses at all that cannot cause illness or flu.
You should not get this vaccine if:
- you ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine, or have a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine. Most of the types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg protein.
- you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome or GBS
- you are not feeling well. You should probably wait until you recover.
If you have any of the above condition speak to the person who is giving you the vaccine or consult your doctor.
Risks of Flu vaccine:
There are chances of side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. Serious reactions are also possible but are rare.
Some of the mild Problems following Flu vaccine include:
- soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- sore, red or itchy eyes
If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1 or 2 days.
Severe problems following a flu shot can include:
There may be a small increased risk of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) after inactivated flu vaccine. This is much lower than the risk of severe complications from flu, which can be prevented by flu vaccine.
There is a little chance to have a seizure caused by fever for young children who get the flu shot along with pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13), and/or DTaP vaccine at the same time. Speak to your doctor if a child who is getting flu vaccine has ever had a seizure before getting the vaccine.
Problems that could happen after any vaccine:
- Sometimes people faint after vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting. If you feel dizzy, have vision changes or ringing in the ears, speak to your doctor.
- In some cases severe pain in the shoulder and difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given could happen.
- A severe allergic reaction would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
- There is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death. The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. You can get all the information from Vaccine Safety site.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. If you have severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes , call 9-1-1 or find the nearest hospital.
The reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) through the VAERS website
or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.
If you are injured by a vaccine, you can file a claim in National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website
to get the compensation.
Learn more about Vaccine:
Your doctor can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
You can call your local or state health department
or can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by:
Calling 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
Visiting CDC vaccines website