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Influenza Immunizations

Influenza, or the "flu", is a serious disease that spreads from infected persons during the flu season each year. Influenza causes fever, sore throat, cough, headache, chills and muscle aches.

Who Should Receive the Vaccine and When?

Children who have a chronic illness, such as kidney disease, heart disease or asthma, should receive the flu shot. Also, anyone six months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment should receive the vaccine because Reye's Syndrome can develop if they catch influenza.

Because influenza activity can start as early as December, the best time to get the vaccine is during October and November. But getting the vaccine after November can still provide protection against the flu.

  • People nine years and older need one shot.
  • Children less than nine years old need two shots, given one month apart, the first time they are vaccinated.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first checking with a doctor. These include the following:

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past.
  • People who previously developed Guillain-Barr Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting a flu shot.
  • The flu shot is not approved for use in children less than six months of age.
  • People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until they feel better.

What are the Risks from the Influenza vaccine?

Like other medicines, a vaccine is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of the flu shot causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. The vaccine will not cause influenza.

Mild Problems:

  • Soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Aches

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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