The first and most important step in protecting against the flu is to get a flu vaccination each season.
Getting a flu vaccine is safe
Flu vaccines have a very good safety history. Millions of flu vaccines have been given safely over the many decades that flu vaccines have been recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hold vaccines to the highest safety standards. See http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/safety/.
- The flu vaccine provides protection that lasts through the flu season.
- A flu vaccine reduces your risk of illness, hospitalization, or even death and can prevent you spreading the virus to your loved ones.
Who should get the 2012-13 seasonal flu vaccine?
This year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects you from the H1N1 and two other flu virus strains.
- This season, there is a universal recommendation for influenza vaccination. This means that everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to be vaccinated against influenza.
- While there is a universal vaccination recommendation this season, it continues to be especially important that people at increased risk of serious flu complications get vaccinated against the flu.
- Because flu viruses change each season, flu vaccines are updated yearly based on worldwide surveillance to protect against the three viruses that research indicates are most likely to cause widespread illness.
- See Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Prevention and Control of Influenza with Vaccines-2010-2011. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/flu_vax1011.htm.
Who Should Not Receive a Flu Shot?
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.
- People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
- Children less than 6 months of age.
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).
Recommendations regarding influenza vaccination for persons who report allergy to eggs.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season.
There are two types of flu vaccines:
- “Flu shots” — inactivated vaccines (containing killed virus) that are given with a needle. There are three flu shots being produced for the United States market now.
- The regular seasonal flu shot is “intramuscular” which means it is injected into muscle (usually in the upper arm). It has been used for decades and is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. Regular flu shots make up the bulk of the vaccine supply produced for the United States.
- A hi-dose vaccine for people 65 and older which also is intramuscular. This vaccine was first made available during the 2010-2011 season.
- An intradermal vaccine for people 18 to 64 years of age which is injected with a needle into the “dermis” or skin. This vaccine was made available for the first time during the 2011-2012 season.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common.
Children and Vaccination
All children 6 months up through 8 years of age getting a flu vaccine for the first time need two doses, at least 4 weeks apart, the first year they are vaccinated in order to develop immune protection.
FIGURE 1. Influenza vaccine dosing algorithm for aged children 6 months through 8 years — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, United States, 2012–13 influenza season
* Doses should be administered at least 4 weeks apart.
† For simplicity, this algorithm takes into consideration only doses of seasonal influenza vaccine received since July 1, 2010. As an alternative approach in settings where vaccination history from before July 1, 2010, is available, if a child aged 6 months through 8 years is known to have received at least 2 seasonal influenza vaccines during any previous season, and at least 1 dose of a 2009(H1N1)-containing vaccine (i.e., either 2010–11 or 2011–12 seasonal vaccine or the monovalent 2009[H1N1] vaccine), then the child needs only 1 dose for 2012–13. Using this approach, children aged 6 months through 8 years need only 1 dose of vaccine in 2012–13 if they have received any of the following: 1) 2 or more doses of seasonal influenza vaccine since July 1, 2010; 2) 2 or more doses of seasonal influenza vaccine before July 1, 2010, and 1 or more doses of monovalent 2009(H1N1) vaccine; or 3) 1 or more doses of seasonal influenza vaccine before July 1, 2010, and 1 or more doses of seasonal influenza vaccine since July 1, 2010. Children for whom one of these conditions is not met require 2 doses in 2012–2013.
Where to Get Your Vaccination
If you have a medical home, that is your place to go when you are sick. Please get your flu vaccine there. You can also receive your vaccine at pharmacies, retailers, and grocery stores. For example, check with your local CVS, Walgreen’s, Target and Safeway stores. We recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine. Vaccination protects your health and the health of your family. It also protects our community. For the 2012-13 flu season, you can locate a clinic where you can obtain a vaccination using one of these three clinic locators:
SUTTER VNA Clinic Locator
MAXIM Clinic Locator
KAISER Clinic Locator
- English: (415) 444-4154 or (707) 765-3560
- Spanish: (415) 444-4200 or (707) 765-3660