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Health Department
Updated 10/18/2005
Stop the Flu Before It Stops You
Hunterdon County Health Department

1. Why Get Vaccinated?

Influenza is a serious disease.  It is caused by a virus that spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others.

Influenza can cause:

People of any age can get influenza. Most people are ill with influenza for only a few days, but some get much sicker and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza causes thousands of deaths each year, mostly among the elderly.

2. Influenza Vaccine:

The viruses that cause influenza change often. Because of this, influenza vaccine is updated each year by replacing at least one of the vaccine viruses with a newer one. This is done to make sure that influenza vaccine is as up-to-date as possible.

Protection develops about 2 weeks after the shot and may last up to a year. Some people who get flu vaccine may still get the flu, but they will usually get a milder case. Flu vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, including pneumococcal vaccine.

3. Who Should Get Influenza Vaccine?

People 6 months of age and older at risk for getting a serious case of influenza or influenza complications and people in close contact with them (including all household members) should get an annual the vaccine.

An annual flu shot is recommended for:

4. When Should I Get the Influenza Vaccine?

The best time to get a flu shot is in October or November. Most people need only one flu shot each year to prevent influenza. Children under 9 years old getting flu vaccine for the first time should get 2 shots, one month apart. Influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines, including pneumococcal vaccine.

Some people should be vaccinated beginning in September or October: people 65 years of age and older, people at high risk from flu and its complications, household contacts of these groups, health care workers, and children under 9 getting the flu shot for the first time. To make sure these people have access to available vaccine, others should wait until November.

5. Some People Should Consult With a Doctor Before Getting Influenza Vaccine.

Consult with a doctor before getting an influenza vaccination if you:

If you are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the influenza vaccine. Talk to your doctor or nurse about rescheduling the vaccination.

6. What are the Risks from the Vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems with it. The viruses in the vaccine are killed, so you cannot get influenza from the vaccine.

Mild Problems:

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days.

Sever Problems:

Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. If they do occur, it is within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot.

In 1976, swine flu vaccine was associated with a severe paralytic illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)> Influenza vaccines since then have not been clearly linked to GBS. However, if there is a risk of GBS from current influenza vaccines it is estimated at 1 or 2 cases per million persons vaccinated - much less than the risk of severe influenza, which can be prevented by vaccination.

7. What if there is a Moderate or Severe Reaction?

8. How Can I Learn More?

Other sources of information:

Adopted from the "Influenza Fact Sheet"
from the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta Georgia

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