Flu Season 2005-2006: Questions & Answers
Two types of flu vaccine
The single best way to protect
against the flu is to get vaccinated each
There are two types of vaccines:
- The "flu shot"- 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 older than 6
months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
For more, please read the Flu
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine - a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu
(sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine"). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 5
years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant. Each vaccine contains three
influenza viruses-one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus.
The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international
surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of
viruses will circulate in a given year. For more, please read the
Influenza Nasal Vaccine
About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against
influenza virus infection develop in the body.
When should you get vaccinated?
October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but you can still
get vaccinated in December and later. Flu season can begin as early as October
and last as late as May.
Who should get vaccinated this season?
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can
get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year. They
are either people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications or
people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications.
People who should get vaccinated each year are:
1) People at high risk for complications from the flu:
- People 65 years and older;
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term
care facilities that house those with long-term illnesses;
- Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart or lung
conditions, including asthma;
- Adults and children 6 months and older who needed regular medical care
or were in a hospital during the previous year because of a metabolic
disease (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or
weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines
or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);
- Children 6 months to 18 years of age who are on
long-term aspirin therapy. (Children given aspirin while they have influenza
are at risk of Reye syndrome.);
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza
- All children 6 to 23 months of age;
- People with any condition that can compromise respiratory function or
the handling of respiratory secretions (that is, a condition that makes it
hard to breathe or swallow, such as brain injury or disease, spinal cord
injuries, seizure disorders, or other nerve or muscle disorders.)
2) People 50 to 64 years of age. Because nearly one-third of people 50
to 64 years of age in the United States have one or more medical conditions that
place them at increased risk for serious flu complications, vaccination is
recommended for all persons aged 50 - 64 years.
3) People who can transmit flu to others at high risk for complications.
Any person in close contact with someone in a high-risk group (see above) should
get vaccinated. This includes all health-care workers, household contacts and
out-of-home caregivers of children 0 to 23 months of age, and close contacts of
people 65 years and older.