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Influenza immunization (vaccine)
Alternative namesVaccine - influenza; Flu shot immunization; Flu vaccine
DefinitionThis vaccination protects people from contracting influenza , a viral illness affecting the respiratory tract.
In the U.S., "flu" outbreaks typically occur in winter months. Symptoms of influenza include fever , chills, muscle aches, and cough. Although the illness usually only lasts 3 to 7 days, some people have more severe cases or complications that require hospitalization.
Thousands of people in the U.S. die each year as the result of the flu or its complications. Most of those who die are the elderly, young children, or people with compromised immune systems.
The viruses that cause influenza change rapidly. Influenza vaccines are developed each year to protect people from the strains expected to be most prevalent. All the viruses in the vaccine are killed, so it is not possible to get the flu from the vaccine. However, some people do experience a low-grade fever afterwards as their immune systems gear up to recognize the virus.
Flu vaccination is generally given at the beginning of the "flu season" -- usually late October or early November in the United States. People traveling to other countries should be aware that influenza may occur at different times of the year in other areas.
The vaccine is recommended for high-risk people 6 months and older as well as those in contact with them (including household contacts):
The influenza vaccine is encouraged for:
Children under age 9 require two shots one month apart the first time that they receive influenza vaccine. Other people require a single shot each year.
Most people achieve protection from influenza vaccine approximately 2 weeks after receiving the immunization.
Most people have no side effects from the influenza vaccine. Soreness at the injection site or minor aches and low grade fever may be present for several days.
Influenza vaccine should be withheld or only given to the following after consultation with the primary care provider:
POST-IMMUNIZATION SYMPTOMS AND CARE
Watch for and be familiar with how to treat minor side effects, such as injection site tenderness or low grade fever.
CALL THE PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:
Update Date: 11/10/2003A.D.A.M. editorial. Previously reviewed by Adam Ratner, M.D., Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT