Influenza is as much a part of the winter as snowmen and hot cocoa, but protection with an annual vaccine should keep you enjoying winter, not curled up in bed miserable.
This year, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended vaccine containing H1N1, H3N2, and other strains of the flu. The Rhode Island Department of Health has ordered the quadrivalent vaccine to administer this year, according to Paula Foster, BSN, RN, who heads up the flu vaccine efforts for the VNA of Care New England.
That's because the best protection, she says, is the vaccine.
"Contrary to what some people think, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The flu shot contains inactivated flu viruses that cannot cause illness," Foster says. "Last year's flu season was moderately severe. We need to be ready in case we have a similar season this year."
Who gets the shot?
Everyone ages six months and older should get the flu vaccine. It is especially important for those at high risk of complications from the flu, Foster explains. You are at high risk if:
- You have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
- You are pregnant
- You are 65 years or older
There are other populations who should not get the flu vaccine, including:
- Anyone with a severe allergy to chicken eggs
- Anyone who has had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
- Children younger than 6 months of age
- People with a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever
- People with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome
In addition, Foster says the following groups should not receive certain types of flu shots:
- People under 65 years should not receive the high-dose flu shot.
- People under 18 years or over 64 years should not receive the intradermal flu shot
More information on flu services.
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