Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tips for Answering Questions about the Flu Vaccine

Flu shot season has arrived. Unfortunately, less than 50% of adults typically receive a flu shot each year. Lack of knowledge may play a role in this low flu vaccination rate.  Below is an FAQ from the CDC regarding the flu vaccine.

·         What is the flu? Influenza (or the flu) is a contagious viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs and can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia. Influenza is not the same as the stomach "flu" viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

·         Can I get the flu from the flu shot? No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Flu vaccines are either ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious or contain no flu vaccine viruses at all. Although the nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses, they are weakened and cannot cause the flu. 

·         I don’t like shots, are there other ways to get vaccinated? Yes, for most healthy, non-pregnant people ages 2 through 49 years old, the nasal spray flu vaccine is a great option. Also, there is an intradermal shot that uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot.

·         What are the benefits of the flu vaccine? The best way to reduce the chances of getting the seasonal flu and spreading it to others is to get a flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

·         Who should get the flu shot? Everyone who is at least 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine this season. It is especially important for certain people to get a flu vaccine including:

         People with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

         Pregnant women.

         People younger than 5 (especially younger than 2) and people 65 years and older.

·         How does the flu shot work? The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. 

·          When should I get vaccinated? Ideally by October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season. It is best to get vaccinated early since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop that protect against influenza. 

·         Do I need a flu vaccine every year? Yes, for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, the flu viruses constantly change and the formulation is reviewed each year.

Click here to view the CDC’s No More Excuses: You Need a Flu Vaccine flyer.

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