Flu Prevention for the 2005-2006 Season (cont.)

Is CDC recommending that flu shots go to "priority groups", as was recommended last season?

To ensure that those who are at highest risk of complications from influenza have access to vaccine this season, CDC recommends that people in certain priority groups receive inactivated influenza vaccine (i.e., the "flu shot") until October 24, 2005:

  • people aged 65 years and older, with and without chronic health conditions
  • residents of long-term care facilities
  • people aged 2-64 years with chronic health conditions
  • children aged 6-23 months
  • pregnant women
  • health-care personnel who provide direct patient care
  • household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age

Beginning October 24, 2005, all persons can get a flu shot.

Use of the nasal spray flu vaccine

It should be noted that vaccination with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is always an option for healthy persons aged 5-49 years who are not pregnant. This vaccine is not subject to prioritization and can be given to healthy 5-49 year olds at any time.

People displaced by hurricane katrina

Influenza vaccination is recommended for all people 6 months of age and older who have been displaced by hurricane Katrina and are living in crowded group settings. See http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/katrina/vaccrecdisplaced.asp

Who should not receive the flu vaccine?

There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
  • People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
  • Influenza vaccine is not approved for use in children less than 6 months of age.
  • People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.

Flu vaccine effectiveness

The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity or "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation. Testing has shown that both the flu shot and the nasal-spray vaccine are effective at preventing the flu.

Flu vaccine side effects (what to expect)

Different side effects can be associated with the flu shot and LAIV.

The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever (low grade)
  • Aches

If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. As of July 1, 2005, people who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). For more information go to http://www.hrsa.gov/osp/vicp/.

LAIV: The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. (In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close contacts has occurred only rarely.)

In children, side effects from LAIV can include

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • muscle aches
  • fever

In adults, side effects from LAIV can include:

Flu prevention

What are other steps that can be taken to prevent the flu?

There are other good health habits that can help prevent the flu. These are:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Do Not Smoke - smoking makes you more susceptible to respiratory infections and complications.
  • Do Not Drink Excessively - alcohol can lower your resistance to infection.
  • Eat Well - balanced diet, rich in zinc and vitamin C. For more, please read the MedicineNet.com Vitamins and Calcium Supplements article.

Also, antiviral medications may be used to prevent the flu.

Flu Shot Finder

The American Lung Association is pleased to offer you the Flu Shot Locator, powered by Maxim Health, with easy access for finding flu clinics near you. Click here for more information.

For more, please visit the Flu Vaccination Center.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Last Editorial Review: 10/25/2005