Flu vaccination & vaccine safety for knowledge sharing
Flu Vaccination &
• The flu is a respiratory disease that spreads easily. It is caused by
an influenza virus. Thousands of people die each year of the flu or
its complications. Most of those who die are the elderly, young
children, or people with a weakened immune system.
How do flu vaccines work?
• Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two
weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection
against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
• The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that
research indicates will be most common during the upcoming
season. Traditional flu vaccines (called trivalent vaccines) are
made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1)
virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In
addition there are another flu vaccines made to protect against
four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines
protect against the same viruses in the trivalent vaccine as well as
an additional B virus.
• 2013-2014 VACCINE
• The trivalent vaccine and the quadrivalent vaccine,
• The flu vaccine comes in two forms.
• THE FLU SHOT
• The flu shot contains killed (inactive) viruses. So you cannot get the flu from this
type of vaccine. Some people do get a low-grade fever for a day or two after the
shot. The flu shot is approved for people age 6 months and older.
• A high-dose version of the flu shot can be given to people 65 and older. Flu shots
may be injected into the muscle or just below the skin.
• THE FLU NASAL SPRAY
• The nasal spray flu vaccine uses live, weakened flu viruses.
• The spray is approved for healthy people aged 2 through 49 years.
• It should not be used in those who have asthma or children under age 5 who
have repeated wheezing episodes.
• It should not be used in pregnant women.
• Vaccines made without eggs are available for people who are allergic to eggs.
How long is my flu vaccination good for?
• The flu vaccine will protect you for one flu season.
Does the flu vaccine work right away?
• It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies
to develop in the body and provide protection against
influenza virus infection.
• In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu.
• That's why it's better to get vaccinated early in the fall,
before the flu season really gets under way.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
• The flu vaccine is the best protection against the
flu this season. If you get the flu vaccine, you are
60% less likely to need treatment for the flu by a
healthcare provider. Getting the vaccine has
been shown to offer substantial benefits
including reducing illness, antibiotic use, time
lost from work, hospitalizations, and deaths.
When should I get the vaccine?
• Get the vaccine as soon as it is available in your
• Flu season usually peaks in January or February,
but it can occur as late as May.
• Early immunization is the most effective, but it
is not too late to get the vaccine in December,
January, or beyond.
WHO SHOULD GET THE FLU VACCINE
• The flu vaccine should be received at the start of the flu season.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone,6
months and older, should receive the flu vaccine. People at risk of more serious flu
infections should always get a flu vaccine every year. The CDC recommends making
an extra effort to vaccinate:
• Pregnant women or women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
• Children 6 months to 5 years of age, especially those under 2 years of age.
• Household contacts and caregivers of children under the age of 6 months, including
• Health care workers and those who live with health care workers.
• People who have chronic lung or heart disease.
• People who have sickle cell anemia or other hemoglobinopathies.
• People living in a nursing home or extended care facilities.
• People living with someone who has chronic health problems.
• People who have kidney disease, anemia, severe asthma, diabetes, or chronic liver
• People who have a weakened immune system (including those with cancer or
• People who take long-term treatment with steroids for any condition.
• Persons 9 years and older need a single flu shot each year. Children 6 months to 8
years old should get two shots at least 1 month apart if they are getting the flu
vaccine for the first time.
Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
• A flu vaccine is needed every season for two
• First, the body’s immune response from
vaccination declines over time, so an annual
vaccine is needed for optimal protection.
• Second, because flu viruses are constantly
changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is
reviewed each year and sometimes updated
to keep up with changing flu viruses. For the
best protection, everyone 6 months and
older should get vaccinated annually.
• Most people are protected from the flu about 2 weeks after receiving
RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS
The flu shot
• Most people have no side effects from the flu vaccine. Soreness at the
injection site, minor aches, or a low grade fever may be present for
• As is the case with any drug or vaccine, there is a rare possibility of
severe allergic reaction.
• The regular seasonal flu shot has been shown to be safe for pregnant
women and their babies.
The flu nasal spray
• Normal side effects of the nasal spray flu vaccine include fever,
headache, runny nose, vomiting, and some wheezing.
• Although these symptoms sound like symptoms of the flu, the side
effects do not become a severe or life-threatening flu infection.
WHO SHOULD NOT GET THE VACCINE
• The flu vaccine is not approved for people under 6
months of age.
• Some people should not be vaccinated without first
talking to their doctor.
• In general, you should not get a flu shot if you:
• Have a fever or illness that is more than "just a cold“.
• Had a moderate to severe reaction like difficult
breathing, hives and facial swelling after a previous
• Developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks
after receiving a flu vaccine (severe paralysis).
• If any of the above applies to you, ask your doctor if a
flu vaccine is safe for you.
• If you are allergic to chickens or egg protein, ask your
doctor if you can safely receive the recombinant
vaccine, which is not made from chicken eggs.
Should I get the flu vaccine if I’m not feeling well?
• If you are sick with a fever, you should wait until
your fever is gone before getting a flu shot.
However, you can get a flu shot if you have a
respiratory illness without a fever, or if you have
another mild illness.
• The nasal-spray flu vaccine can be given to
people with minor illnesses, such as:
• a mild upper respiratory tract infection, with or
without a fever.
• If you have nasal congestion, you should
consider waiting to get the nasal-spray flu
vaccine. Nasal congestion may limit the
vaccine's ability to reach the nasal lining.
Will this season's vaccine be a good match
for circulating viruses?
• It's not possible to predict with certainty which flu viruses will
predominate during a given season. Over the course of a flu
season, CDC studies samples of flu viruses circulating during that
season to evaluate how close a match there is between viruses
used to make the vaccine and circulating viruses. In addition, CDC
conducts studies each year to determine how well the vaccine
protects against illness during that season.
• Flu viruses are constantly changing (called “antigenic drift”) – they
can change from one season to the next or they can even change
within the course of one flu season. Experts must pick which
viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order
for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time. Because of
these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal
match between circulating viruses and the viruses in the vaccine.
Can the vaccine provide protection even if the vaccine is not a "good" match?
• Yes, antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus
can sometimes provide protection against different but related
viruses. A less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine
effectiveness against the virus that is different from what is in the
vaccine, but it can still provide some protection against influenza
• In addition, even when there is a less than ideal match or lower
effectiveness against one virus, it's important to remember that
the flu vaccine may protect against the other flu viruses included
in the vaccine.
• For these reasons, even during seasons when there is a less than
ideal match, CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination. This is
particularly important for people at high risk for serious flu
complications, and their close contacts.
How can I report a serious reaction to the vaccine?
• Contact your health care provider
immediately if you have a serious reaction to
the flu vaccine. Your health care provider
should report your reaction to the Vaccine
Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). You
can also file a report yourself. All serious
reactions should be reported, even if you
aren’t sure it was caused by the flu vaccine.
VAERS uses this data to help identify serious
reactions that may need further
What role does the Department of Health and Human Services play in the supply and distribution of the
seasonal influenza vaccine?
• Influenza vaccine production and distribution
are primarily private sector endeavors. The
Department of Health and Human Services and
CDC do not have the authority to control
influenza vaccine distribution nor the
resources to manage such an effort. However,
the Department has made significant efforts to
enhance production capacity of seasonal
influenza vaccines, including supporting
manufacturers as they invest in processes to
stabilize and increase their production