What is the flu (influenza)?
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.
It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is
different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu
often experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle
or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting
and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Some people, such as senior citizens, young children, and people with certain health
conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent
the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
What is the flu shot?
The “flu shot” is 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 ages
6 months and older*, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
This season’s vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research
indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1)
virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus.
The vaccine takes effect approximately two weeks after it has been administered
as antibodies (substances in the blood that protect against infection) accumulate
and provide protection against influenza. Therefore, you may be susceptible to influenza,
just as are individuals who have not received the vaccination, during the two weeks
that follow your flu shot.
*Take Care ClinicsSM offer the flu shot for patients ages 2 and older.
What are the common side effects?
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu
from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2
days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from
What is the Fluzone High-Dose flu shot?
Seniors ages 65 and older have a higher risk for developing complications from the
flu and account for more than 60% of the flu-related hospitalizations each year.
Recent studies show that people ages 65+ may not respond as well to standard-dose
flu shots as younger people do because they do not produce as high of an antibody
response following vaccination as do younger people. People with low antibody levels
may be at higher risk of catching the flu.
Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is designed specifically for patients ages 65+ and works
by improving the production of antibodies in order to provide a stronger immune
response to the flu than traditional vaccines. Like the standard flu shot, Fluzone
High-Dose is given as an injection in the arm and the side effects are similar,
though some patients may experience increased redness around the injection site.
Who should get a flu shot?
The CDC is currently recommending that everyone ages 6 months and older* get a flu
shot this season. In general, it is recommended that anyone who wants to reduce
his or her chances of getting the flu should be vaccinated. It’s especially important
for some people to get vaccinated, including:
- 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
- Pregnant women
- People 65 years and older
- People who live with or care for others who are at high risk for developing serious
complications. This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain
medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
*Take Care Clinics offer the flu shot for patients ages 2 and older.
Who should not get a flu shot?
Certain individuals should not be vaccinated without first consulting a healthcare
professional. These patients include:
- Those with a severe allergy to chicken eggs
- Those with allergies to certain medications and preservatives, including certain
antibiotics and Thimerosal (preservative)
- Those who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
- Those who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting the
flu vaccine previously
- Those who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait until they
recover before getting a flu shot