Skip to Content

Influenza Virus Vaccine

Generic Name: influenza virus vaccine (IN-floo-EN-za)
Brand Name: Examples include Afluria and Fluzone

Influenza Virus Vaccine is used for:

Protecting against certain strains of influenza (flu).

Influenza Virus Vaccine is a vaccine. It works by stimulating the body to produce antibodies against certain types of the flu virus, which helps your body to fight the infection.

Do NOT use Influenza Virus Vaccine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Influenza Virus Vaccine, including egg proteins or egg products
  • you have had a severe allergic reaction (eg, rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue) to a prior flu vaccination

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Influenza Virus Vaccine:

Some medical conditions may interact with Influenza Virus Vaccine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you are allergic to neomycin, polymyxin, rubber, latex, or thimerosal (a preservative)
  • if you have a fever, cold, respiratory tract infection, or other infection or recent illness
  • if you have a bleeding problem (eg, hemophilia) or low blood platelet levels
  • if you have immune system problems (eg, HIV, weakened immune system)
  • if you are receiving radiation treatment or chemotherapy, or if you have recently received or will be receiving any other vaccines
  • if you have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome or other nervous system problems

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Influenza Virus Vaccine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because the risk of bleeding at the injection site may be increased
  • Corticosteroids (eg, prednisone) or other medicines that may weaken the immune system because they may decrease Influenza Virus Vaccine's effectiveness. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines may weaken the immune system

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Influenza Virus Vaccine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Influenza Virus Vaccine:

Use this medicine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with some brands of Influenza Virus Vaccine. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine is usually given once a year in September, October, or November.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine is given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Certain influenza vaccines are approved for use in children. Some children may need to receive more than 1 dose of the vaccine. Discuss your child's flu vaccine history with your doctor. Be sure to follow the vaccination schedule provided by your doctor.
  • Do not use Influenza Virus Vaccine if it has been frozen, contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial or syringe is cracked or damaged.
  • If you miss a dose of Influenza Virus Vaccine, contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Influenza Virus Vaccine.

Important safety information:

  • Certain brands of Influenza Virus Vaccine may cause dizziness or fainting. Use Influenza Virus Vaccine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • If you have a fever, cold, respiratory tract infection, or other illness, contact your doctor before you receive Influenza Virus Vaccine. You may need to receive your injection at a later time.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine is not a cure for the flu. It must be given before you are exposed to the flu in order to be effective.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine contains killed viruses. It cannot cause you to develop the flu.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine is only effective for 1 flu season. You will need to receive the flu vaccine each year.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine is not effective against all strains of the flu virus. It may also not protect everyone who receives it.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine does not protect against other respiratory infections.
  • Tell your doctor if you have recently received or will be receiving any other vaccines.
  • Some of these products contain thimerosal (a preservative). If you have ever had an allergic reaction to thimerosal, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your product has thimerosal in it.
  • The tip cap of some of these products may contain natural rubber latex. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to latex, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your product has latex in it.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you have used Influenza Virus Vaccine before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Use Influenza Virus Vaccine with caution in the ELDERLY; its effectiveness may be decreased in elderly patients.
  • Fever or seizures accompanied with fever have occurred in CHILDREN using certain brands of Influenza Virus Vaccine, especially in children who are younger than 5 years old. Contact your doctor if you have questions about this information.
  • Caution is advised when using Influenza Virus Vaccine in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 6 months old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • Some brands of Influenza Virus Vaccine are not approved for use in CHILDREN younger than 18 years old. If the patient is a child, check with your doctor to determine whether this brand is approved for children.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if Influenza Virus Vaccine can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Influenza Virus Vaccine while you are pregnant. It is not known if this medicine is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use Influenza Virus Vaccine, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of Influenza Virus Vaccine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Cough; diarrhea; general body discomfort; headache; irritability; mild bruising, hardening of the skin, pain, redness, swelling, or tenderness at the injection site; mild fever or chills; muscle aches; sore throat; stuffy nose; tiredness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); burning, numbness, or tingling; decreased movement of the face muscles; decreased movement or sensation at or near the injection site; fainting; loss of appetite; muscle weakness; red, swollen, blistering, or peeling skin; seizures; severe or persistent headache or fever; vision changes; vomiting.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org), or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of Influenza Virus Vaccine:

Influenza Virus Vaccine is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using Influenza Virus Vaccine at home, store Influenza Virus Vaccine as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Influenza Virus Vaccine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Influenza Virus Vaccine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Influenza Virus Vaccine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Influenza Virus Vaccine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Influenza Virus Vaccine.

Review Date: April 1, 2016

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Hide