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Shorter days and cooler evenings. It’s fall – and often the time that we start seeing more people sick with flu. By getting a flu vaccine for yourself and your entire family every year, you can help prevent flu-related illness, missed school, and missed work.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of serious flu-related complications. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. Anyone can become sick with the flu and experience serious complications. But even if you are healthy and bounce back quickly, others around you might not be so lucky. Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.
Flu viruses are constantly changing, and different flu viruses circulate and cause illness each season. The annual flu vaccine is updated each year to protect against the flu viruses research indicates will be most common. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every year.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for complications from flu, and for people who live with or care for someone who is at high risk. Some of those people include the following:
For a complete list of all people recommended for flu vaccination, as well as those who are not recommended for flu vaccination, visit Who Should Get Vaccinated.
You should get vaccinated every year for two reasons. The first reason is that because flu viruses are constantly changing, the flu vaccine is often updated from one season to the next to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The second reason is that a person's immune protection from vaccination declines over time so a yearly vaccination is needed for optimal protection. Yearly vaccination is recommended even for those who received the vaccine during the previous flu season.
Many children need two doses of flu vaccine this season to be fully protected. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses. Some children in this age group who have received a flu vaccine in prior seasons will also need two doses. Your child’s health care provider can tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child.
There are several flu vaccine options for the 2013-2014 flu season. Flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) will be available this season, in addition to flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines).
CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the best option for you.
The flu vaccine is safe. People have been receiving flu vaccines for more than 50 years. Vaccine safety is closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been given safely to people across the country for decades.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given, maybe a low fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or cough. If you do experience them at all, these side effects are usually mild and short-lived.
Flu vaccine should be available widely, and in many convenient locations. See your doctor or nurse to get the flu vaccine, or seek out other locations where vaccine is being offered, such as pharmacies, health departments, grocery stores and many others. Use the vaccine locator to find flu vaccine in your area.
CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
Last syndicated: April 24, 2014
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