Childhood Diseases Vaccinations Flu

The flu vaccine comes in two different forms: a flu shot and a nasal mist. Medical professionals recommend that healthy individuals receive a yearly vaccination to protect themselves against the seasonal flu. The flu vaccine and the swine flu vaccine aren’t the same: The seasonal flu vaccine won’t protect individuals from the 2009 H1N1 virus.

About the Flu Vaccine

Produced by the FDA, the flu vaccine is an inactive combination of the three most problematic influenza strains for the current flu season. After a thorough testing process, the FDA issues this vaccine to the public. Usually administered in the arm, the inactivated virus helps by providing protective antibodies to fight the flu virus. It is approved for healthy people over the age of 6 months, as well as those with chronic medical conditions.

Weakened versions of the live virus are used in the nasal spray flu vaccine. The virus found in this vaccine isn’t strong enough to cause recipients to contract the flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine should only be used in healthy people, aged 2 through 49. Because it contains the live virus, it shouldn’t be given to those with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.

You should get vaccinated yearly, as the vaccine won’t provide protection beyond one season. Each year, the vaccine’s formulation is updated to fight the most common flu viruses.

The Flu Vaccine - How Influenza Vaccines are Made

Who Should Get a Flu Shot

Anyone who wishes to protect themselves from the flu virus is encouraged to obtain the flu vaccine yearly. However, there are certain groups who are considered most at risk of contracting the flu or spreading it to others. These people are considered priority for receiving the vaccine when supplies are low. These groups include:

  • Adults older than 50
  • Caregivers of, and those who live with an infant younger than 6 months of age
  • Children ages 6 months to 19 years
  • Health care workers
  • People with long-term health problems
  • Pregnant women (also those who anticipate becoming pregnant during the flu season).

Who Shouldn’t Get the Flu Shot Vaccine

There are people who shouldn’t get a flu shot. Also, another distinct group should avoid the nasal spray vaccine. Those who should avoid getting the flu shot are:

  • Anyone who is moderately or severely ill with a fever (Wait until you feel better.)
  • Anyone with an allergy to eggs
  • Children younger than 6 months old
  • People with an allergic reaction to the shot in the past
  • Those who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within three weeks of getting the flu shot.

These people should avoid getting the nasal-spray vaccine:

  • Adults over 50 years of age
  • Anyone allergic to eggs
  • Children less than 2 years old
  • Children or adolescents on long-term aspirin therapy
  • People who have shown severe allergic reactions to the flu vaccine
  • People with long-term health issues
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Those with weakened immune systems.

Consult with your physician about whether your child would be a good candidate for either type of flu vaccine.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2009). Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Retrieved January 1, 2010, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/Flu/protect/keyfacts.htm.

Family Doctor Staff. (2009). Preventing the flu. Retrieved January 1, 2010, from the Family Doctor Web site: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/vaccines/477.html.

Hirsch, L. (2008). Is the flu vaccine a good idea for your family? Retrieved January 1, 2010, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/h1n1_center/h1n1_center_prevention/flu_vaccine.html#.