Listed below are specifics groups who should be immunized:
- All children aged six–59 months (i.e., six months–four years);
- All persons aged 50 years or older
- Children and adolescents (aged six months–18 years) receiving long-term aspirin therapy who therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
- Adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus;
- Adults and children who have any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders) that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
- Health care personnel
- Healthy household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children under five years and adults 50 years or older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children under six months
- Healthy household contacts (including children) and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza
The respiratory virus that is currently circulating in the United States is passed from person to person. Seasonal flu is spread by people infected with the virus who are coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by touching something with flu viruses on it, such as a tissue or a doorknob, and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
You can protect yourself from the flu by washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water. You also can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Stay away from people who are sick (especially if they have fever, cough and a sore throat). Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.
The most important thing you can do for you and your family in preparing for flu season is to get the flu vaccine. This important step is now recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for everyone over six months of age.
The flu shot cannot cause the flu. Some people may experience a little soreness or swelling where they receive the shot, but it goes away in a day or two. Serious problems from the flu shot are rare. Sometimes a person who gets a flu vaccine can get the flu, but it will often be milder than without the vaccine.
The most common symptoms are sudden onset of fever (half having a temperature greater than 100.4), cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, headache and fatigue. Some people have experienced diarrhea and vomiting as well. Stay home if you get sick. In most cases people with the flu will get better without medical attention. Wait to be around people until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications.
WARNING: Do not give aspirin or medications that contain aspirin to children 18 years and younger. If you are at risk for complications of influenza, call your healthcare provider.