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2009-2010 Inactivated Influenza Vaccine

The Seasonal Flu Vaccine: What You Need to Know

Why get vaccinated?

Influenza (the “flu”) is a contagious disease.

It is caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions.

Other illnesses can have the same symptoms and are often mistaken for influenza. But only an illness caused by the influenza virus is really influenza.

Anyone can get influenza, but rates of infection are highest among children. For most people, it lasts only a few days. It can cause:

Some people, such as infants, elderly, and those with certain health conditions, can get much sicker. Flu can cause high fever and pneumonia, and make existing medical conditions worse. It can cause diarrhea and seizures in children. On average, 226,000 people are hospitalized every year because of influenza and 36,000 die – mostly elderly. Influenza vaccine can prevent influenza.

Inactivated influenza vaccine

There are two types of seasonal influenza vaccine:

  1. Inactivated (killed) vaccine, or the “flu shot” is given by injection into the muscle.
  2. Live, attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine is sprayed into the nostrils.
Note: These “seasonal” influenza vaccines are formulated to prevent annual flu. They do not protect against pandemic H1N1 influenza.

Influenza viruses are always changing. Because of this, influenza vaccines are updated every year, and an annual vaccination is recommended.

Each year scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu that year. When there is a close match the vaccine protects most people from serious influenza-related illness. But even when there is not a close match, the vaccine provides some protection. Influenza vaccine will not prevent “influenza-like” illnesses caused by other viruses.

It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot. Protection lasts up to a year.

Some inactivated influenza vaccine contains a preservative called thimerosal. Some people have suggested that thimerosal may be related to developmental problems in children. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine reviewed many studies looking into this theory and concluded that there is no evidence of such a relationship. Thimerosal-free influenza vaccine is available.




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