Influenza Vaccine

What is the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is an injection or nasal spray given to help prevent influenza. Influenza, or the flu, is caused by a virus. The virus spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Several types of viruses cause the flu. The viruses change over time, so new vaccines are made each year. The vaccine begins to protect you about 2 weeks after you get it.

What are the types of influenza vaccines?

  • Flu shot: The flu shot is usually injected into your upper arm. It may be given in your thigh. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine because the viruses used to make the vaccine are not alive.

  • Nasal spray: This flu vaccine is given as a spray into your nose. It is made from influenza viruses that are weak, but still alive. The vaccine can cause mild illness, but it does not cause the flu.

When should I get the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is offered every year starting in October or November. Get the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available. Children between 6 months and 8 years old need 2 vaccines during the first year they get it. The 2 vaccines should be given 4 or more weeks apart. It is best if the same type of vaccine is given both times.

Who should get the flu shot?

  • Infants older than 6 months

  • Any healthy adult who would like to decrease the risk for the flu

  • Anyone living with or caring for children younger than 5 years

  • Healthcare workers

  • Anyone who lives in a long-term care facility

  • Anyone who has chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, or blood disorders

  • Anyone who has a weak immune system

  • Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season

Who should not get the flu shot?

  • Infants younger than 6 months

  • Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to the flu shot

  • Anyone who is sick or has a fever

  • Anyone who received a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting a flu vaccine

  • Anyone who is allergic to thimerosal (mercury)

Who can get the nasal spray?

Most healthy people between 2 and 49 years may get the nasal spray instead of the flu shot.

Who should not get the nasal spray?

  • Anyone younger than 2 years or older than 50 years

  • Children between 2 and 4 years who have asthma, or have had wheezing during the previous 12 months

  • Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to the nasal spray

  • Anyone who has an allergy to chicken or egg products

  • Anyone who has chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, or blood disorders

  • Anyone who has a weak immune system

  • Any healthcare worker who takes care of a person who has a weak immune system

  • Women who are pregnant

  • Anyone who is sick or has a fever

  • Anyone who received a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting a flu vaccine

What are the risks of the influenza vaccine?

The area where the vaccine was given may be red, tender, or swollen. The flu shot may cause mild symptoms, such as a fever, headache, and muscle aches. The nasal spray may cause a fever, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches, or vomiting. You may still get the flu after you receive the influenza vaccine. If you are allergic to chicken or egg products, ask about an egg-free vaccine. You may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have increased pain, redness, or swelling around the area where the shot was given.

  • You have questions or concerns about the influenza vaccine.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your face is red or swollen.

  • You have hives that spread over your body.

  • You feel weak or dizzy.

  • Your mouth and throat are swollen.

  • You are wheezing or have trouble breathing.

  • You have chest pain or your heart is beating faster than normal for you.

  • You feel like you are going to faint.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

Learn more about Influenza Vaccine

Hide
(web1)