INACTIVATED INFLUENZA VACCINE

2009-10

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Influenza (“flu”) is a contagious disease.

It is caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions. Other illnesses can have the same symptoms and are often mistaken for influenza. But only an illness caused by the influenza virus is really influenza. Anyone can get influenza, but rates of infection are highest among children.

For most people, it lasts only a few days. It can cause:

Some people, such as infants, elderly, and those with certain health conditions, can get much sicker. Flu can cause high fever and pneumonia, and make existing medical conditions worse. It can cause diarrhea and seizures in children. On average, 226,000 people are hospitalized every year because of influenza and 36,000 die – mostly elderly.

Influenza vaccine can prevent influenza.

2. Inactivated influenza vaccine

There are two types of seasonal influenza vaccine:

Influenza viruses are always changing. Because of this, influenza vaccines are updated every year, and an annual vaccination is recommended. (Note: These “seasonal” influenza vaccines are formulated to prevent annual flu. They do not protect against pandemic H1N1 influenza.).

Each year scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu that year. When there is a close match the vaccine protects most people from serious influenza-related illness. But even when there is not a close match, the vaccine provides some protection. Influenza vaccine will not prevent “influenza-like” illnesses caused by other viruses.

It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot. Protection lasts up to a year. Some inactivated influenza vaccine contains a preservative called thimerosal.

Some people have suggested that thimerosal may be related to developmental problems in children. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine reviewed many studies looking into this theory and concluded that there is no evidence of such a relationship. Thimerosal-free influenza vaccine is available.

3. Who should get inactivated influenza vaccine?

- Anyone who wants to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza or spreading influenza to others
- All children 6 months and older and all older adults:
- Anyone who is at risk of complications from influenza, or more likely to require medical care:
- Anyone who lives with or cares for people at high risk for influenza-related complications:
- Health care providers may also recommend a yearly influenza vaccination for:

4. When should I get influenza vaccine

You can get the vaccine as soon as it is available, usually in the fall, and for as long as illness is occurring in your community. Influenza can occur any time from November through May, but it most often peaks in January or February. Getting vaccinated in December, or even later, will still be beneficial in most years.

Most people need one dose of influenza vaccine each year. Children younger than 9 years of age getting influenza vaccine for the first time – or who got influenza vaccine for the first time last season but got only one dose – should get 2 doses, at least 4 weeks apart, to be protected.

Influenza vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, including pneumococcal vaccine.

5. Some people should talk with a doctor before getting influenza vaccine

Some people should not get inactivated influenza vaccine or should wait before getting it.

6. What are the risks from inactivated influenza vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Serious problems from influenza vaccine are very rare. The viruses in inactivated influenza vaccine have been killed, so you cannot get influenza from the vaccine.

Mild problems:

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days.

Severe problems:

7. What if there is a severe reaction?

What should I look for?

Any unusual condition, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.

What should I do?

8. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

A federal program exists to help pay for the care of anyone who has a serious reaction to a vaccine. For more information about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, call 1-800-338-2382, or visit their website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.

9 How can I learn more?

• Ask your provider. They can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
• Call your local or state health department.
• Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):