Influenza Vaccine

Kenneth Ackerman, M.D.

Vaccination should begin as soon as possible and should not be delayed.  All people 6 months and older are now recommended to receive an influenza vaccination each year. The 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus. This means you only need one flu vaccine this year and most people will only need to get vaccinated once. The one exception to this is that children aged 6 months through 8 years of age who have never received a seasonal flu vaccine need to get two doses of vaccine spaced at least 4 weeks apart.

Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for persons who are at increased risk for severe complications from influenza.   These include the following:

  • All children aged 6 months–4 years (59 months)
  • Pregnant Women
  • All persons aged 50 years or older
  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
  • Adults and children who have immune system suppression (including immune system suppression caused by medications or by HIV)
  • Children and adolescents (aged 6 months–18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
  • Health care personnel
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years or older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children younger than 6 months
  • Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.

Remember, Flu Vaccine does not cause the flu. Common side effects include mild pain at the injection site and slight chills within a day of the injection.

Those who should not receive the vaccine include the following:

  • Those younger than 6 months;
  • Those who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs;
  • Those who have ever had severe reactions to influenza vaccines
  • Those who currently have a moderate or severe illness with fever.

If you do not fall into one of those categories, obtain your flu vaccine today!