According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended that everyone age 6 months or older get a flu shot every year to protect against the flu.
There are several flu options for the 2013-2014 flu season.
Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. The trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus. In addition, this season flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available.
The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:
- Standard trivalent flu vaccines that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. These are approved for people ages 6 months and older. There are different brands of this type of vaccine, and each is approved for different ages. However, there is a brand that is approved for children as young as 6 months old and up.
- A standard dose trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 through 49 years of age.
- A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
- A standard dose intradermal trivalent shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot, approved for people 18 through 64 years of age.
- A standard dose quadrivalent shot
- A standard dose quadrivalent flu vaccine, given as a nasal spray, approved for healthy people 2 through 49 years of age. Persons getting the nasal spray vaccine must not have asthma or other chronic medical conditions that make them susceptible to flu complications.
Who should get vaccinated?
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it is especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. This includes:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: Health care workers, household contacts of persons at risk from complications from the flu, and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than six months of age(these children are too young to be vaccinated).
Who should not get vaccinated?
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)
When to get vaccinated?
Yearly flu vaccination should begin as soon as the vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season which can last as late as April or May.
Where to get vaccinated?
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and urgent care clinics, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools.
The Flu Vaccine Locator is a useful tool for finding vaccine in your area.