Influenza vaccine is the best way to prevent illness. Because the strains of influenza that are circulating change, a person needs a flu vaccine every year to be protected. Anyone concerned about being ill with influenza or transmitting infection to others should get vaccinated.
Why should I get a vaccine?
Vaccination offers the best protection against influenza! Influenza appears in Boston every year causing illness in thousands of people. Each year a new flu vaccine is created to protect against the top three strains of influenza that are expected to be circulating in the community. Since the strains change each year, you need to get a vaccine each year to be fully protected.
Influenza can’t be that serious, can it?
Yes, influenza is unpredictable and can be severe. Between 1976 and 2006, CDC estimates that from 3,000 to 49,000 people died each year of complications from influenza. In 2010-2011, 116 children in the US died from influenza.
Who should get a flu vaccine?
A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu. It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine. A person needs to get a flu vaccine every year to be protected. There are two ways to kinds of influenza vaccine. One is a shot given in the arm (called the Flu Shot) and the other is a mist given in the nose (called the Flu Mist)
Should I get the flu shot or the flu mist vaccine?
It is best to talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccine is best for you. In general, the flu shot is available for anyone 6 months of age and older who has not had a severe allergic reaction to vaccine components, such as eggs, or to a previous dose of flu vaccine. Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome should talk with their doctor before getting a flu vaccine.
The flu mist (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”) is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. The mist is given in the nose and is an option for healthy people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
When should I get the vaccine?
Influenza activity in the Boston area is usually highest from October through March, but influenza is unpredictable. Getting a vaccine early in the flu season can provide longer protection against the virus however, vaccines are available all season. Adults and older children will only need one dose of vaccine to be protected; some children under 9 will need two doses. Check with your doctor to make sure.
Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
Influenza vaccines cannot give you the flu. However, you should keep in mind that it takes two weeks after getting vaccinated to be fully protected against the flu. Be sure to take other precautions against getting the flu during this time.
How can I prevent the spread of flu?
There are many ways you can help prevent the spread of germs.
What should I do if I get the flu?
Generally, the flu lasts 3 to 7 days. Drink plenty of fluids and get a lot of rest. Medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Nuprin® or Advil®) can be used to help relieve a fever. Be sure to follow package directions for the age of the person taking the medicine. Do not give aspirin to children due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome, a rare but serious illness. Decongestants may help relieve a stuffy nose or sinus pressure in adults and older children. Talk to your doctor if symptoms seem severe or ongoing.
Are there any medications that I can take?
Antiviral medicines prescribed by a doctor can be used to treat influenza, but are most often recommended for persons at high risk of developing complications from the flu. To be most effective, these medicines should be started within 48 hours of symptom onset. These drugs can reduce the symptoms of the flu and shorten the time you are sick by 1 to 2 days.
For printable pdf versions of influenza vaccination information, please click the links below: