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 2013-14 seasonal flu vaccine?
This year’s seasonal flu vaccines will protect you from the H1N1 and two or three 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 or four viruses that research indicates are most likely to cause widespread illness.
Who Should Not Receive a Flu Shot?
There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:
- Children less than 6 months of age.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) after receiving a flu vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza.
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs are now able to receive a Recombinant Influenza Vaccine which does not include any chicken egg protein. If you have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, talk to your provider about this option for vaccination.
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. The flu shots being produced for the United States market now are:
- 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. Flu shots protect you against three or four strains of flu.
- 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.
- A recombinant influenza vaccine that does not include any chicken egg protein. This influenza vaccine should be used for persons with severe allergic reactions to eggs. This vaccine is being made available for the first time during the 2013-2014 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 or four 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.
Influenza vaccine dosing algorithm for children 6 months through 8 years of age.
Where to Get Your Vaccination
There will be a Free Flu Clinic on December 14, 2013. See this flyer for details.
Otherwise, if you have a medical home, that is your place to go when you are sick or to get your flu vaccine. You can also receive your vaccine at pharmacies, retailers, and grocery stores. For example, check with your local CVS, Walgreen’s, Target, Rite Aid, 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 2013-14 flu season, you can locate a clinic where you can obtain a vaccination using one of these clinic locators:
HealthMap Vaccine Finder
MAXIM Clinic Locator
KAISER Clinic Locator
- English: (415) 444-4154 or (707) 765-3560
- Spanish: (415) 444-4200 or (707) 765-3660