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Common Vaccine Names
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccines have a very good safety track record.
Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu vaccine location near you this flu season. The 2013-2014 vaccine is now available.
The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu this season. If you get the flu vaccine, you are 60% less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider. Getting the vaccine has been shown to offer substantial other benefits including reducing illness, antibiotic use, time lost from work, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Get the vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. Flu season usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as late as May. Early immunization is the most effective, but it is not too late to get the vaccine in December, January, or beyond.
There are two different types of flu vaccines, trivalent and quadrivalent.
Trivalent vaccines protect against 3 strains of the flu, A/H3N2, A/H1N1, and influenza B. Trivalent vaccines are available in:
Quadivalent vaccines protect against 4 strains of the flu, A/H3N2, A/H1N1, and 2 strains of influenza B. Quadrivalent vaccines are available in:
The flu vaccine will protect you for one flu season.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. That's why it's better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way.
Seasonal flu vaccines have a very good safety track record. Although there are possible side-effects to vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration closely monitor the safety of seasonal flu vaccines.
If you are sick with a fever, you should wait until your fever is gone before getting a flu shot. However, you can get a flu shot if you have a respiratory illness without a fever, or if you have another mild illness.
The nasal-spray flu vaccine can be given to people with minor illnesses, such as:
If you have nasal congestion, you should consider waiting to get the nasal-spray flu vaccine. Nasal congestion may limit the vaccine's ability to reach the nasal lining.
Mild side effects usually begin soon after you get the vaccine and last one to two days. Possible mild side effects of the flu shot include:
Possible mild side effects of the nasal spray include:
Serious side effects usually begin within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the shot. Possible serious side effects of vaccination include:
If you experience any of these reactions, seek medical attention immediately.
Contact your health care provider immediately if you have a serious reaction to the flu vaccine. Your health care provider should report your reaction to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). You can also file a report yourself. All serious reactions should be reported, even if you aren’t sure it was caused by the flu vaccine. VAERS uses this data to help identify serious reactions that may need further investigation.
If your reaction results in a serious injury, you may qualify for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). VICP provides compensation for vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines given on or after October 1, 1988.
No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal spray. The flu shot contains inactivated (killed) flu viruses that cannot cause illness. The nasal spray contains weakened live viruses. The weakened viruses only cause infection in the cooler temperatures found in the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas in the body where warmer temperatures exist.
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines, but you should check with your insurance company before visiting your health care provider. Under the Affordable Care Act, many insurers are required to cover certain preventive services, like the flu vaccine, at no cost to you.
If you do not have insurance or if it does not cover vaccines, help is available.
Talk to your health care provider about vaccination if you have:
Last syndicated: November 27, 2013
This content is brought to you by: Flu.gov