Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.
Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The вЂњseasonal flu seasonвЂќ in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
How do flu vaccines work?
Flu vaccines (the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine (LAIV)) cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine
What kinds of flu vaccines are available?
There are two types of vaccines:
The вЂњflu shotвЂќ вЂ” 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.
There are three different flu shots available:
- a regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older
- a high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, and
- an intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 to 64 years of age.
The nasal-spray flu vaccine вЂ” a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for вЂњLive Attenuated Influenza VaccineвЂќ). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses (trivalent) that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The viruses in the vaccine can change each year based on international surveillance and scientistsвЂ™ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. While some manufacturers are planning to produce a quadrivalent (four component) vaccine in the future, quadrivalent vaccines are not expected to be available for the 2012-2013 season.
About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body. Information specific to the 2012-2013 season including the flu vaccine formulation, can be found at 2012-2013 Flu Season.
Who Should Get Vaccinated This Season?
Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. ItвЂ™s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes:
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People 65 years and older
People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications. This includes:
- household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
A detailed list is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza. A complete list of health and age factors that are known to increase a personвЂ™s risk of developing serious complications from flu is available at People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)
People with a history of GuillainвЂ“BarrГ© Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-BarrГ© Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
The Flu shot is available at numerous locations in your community and to find out where call you local healthВ department:
28 S 100 E
PO BOX 800
Price, UT 84501
Castle Dale Office
25 W Main
PO BOX 644
Castle Dale, UT 84513
575 S. Kane Creek Blvd.
PO BOX E
Moab, UT 84532