Protect Yourself with Yearly Influenza (flu) Vaccine!
Influenza (the flu) is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the influenza or flu virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death due to complications such as pneumonia or meningitis. Each year in the United States up to 20% of the population gets the flu; more than 250,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications and 36,000 to 50,000 people of all ages die from flu-related causes. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a seasonal flu vaccine each fall or winter.
Symptoms of the flu are different from those of a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting (especially in small children). It is important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as "stomach flu. That condition is caused by a virus, but not the influenza virus.
At any given time, there are several hundred strains of influenza or flu virus circulating around the world. Flu vaccine is manufactured to include three of these viruses that are most likely to cause serious illness and death. Because the viruses are constantly evolving, it is important to take a new flu vaccine every year to have the maximum protection.
Influenza (flu) vaccine is now recommended, beginning in the 2010 flu season, for EVERYONE beginning at six months of age. Certain groups of people, such as infants, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions are considered high priority and should be the first to get a flu shot in the event of limited supplies of influenza vaccine. Flu vaccine is also now available in a nasal spray formulation and is given only to healthy individuals ages 2-49.
There are some people who should not take a flu vaccine or flu shot: anyone who has a true allergy to eggs or chicken products, anyone who has had an allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine and anyone who has had Guillain-Barre disease, a disease of paralysis beginning in the feet and hands and moving up the body.
Contrary to what many people think, it is impossible to get the flu from taking the flu shot. Years ago, you COULD contract the flu after receiving the flu vaccine because they used live viruses to manufacture the vaccine. Now they only use inactivated or "killed virus to make the injectable form of flu vaccine, making it impossible to actually get the flu from the flu shot.. However, some people do experience mild fever or chills for a day or two, relieved by over the counter fever reducers, such as acetominophen or ibuprophen. It is very important to NEVER give a child aspirin after a flu vaccine as it may cause a potentially deadly condition called Reye's syndrome.
In 2009, H1N1 swine influenza became a worldwide pandemic, infecting millions of people and causing tens of thousands of deaths. Fortunately, the death toll was not as high as was feared. Although the availability and distribution of H1N1 vaccine was late in the season, it was responsible for helping lessen the numbers of people sickened by H1N1 swine influenza. This experience further validated the importance of having a plentiful influenza vaccine supply and rapid distribution system available for the future.
If you are traveling outside of the U.S , visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/vaccinations.aspx for more specific information related to Influenza vaccine and other information you need before you travel.
Most of the above information was taken from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/ and http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/flu/default.htm
For more specific information, refer to the Influenza Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-flu.pdf
SHOTS, etc. provides influenza vaccine for people of all ages in all available formulations including regular and preservative-free injectable and intranasal flu vaccine. Visit www.SHOTSetc.com for more information on group and individual services.