Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
· Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Muscle or body aches
· Fatigue (tiredness)
· Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Who Should Be Vaccinated?
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s 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:
· Pregnant women
· Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
· People 50 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 high risk for complications from the flu
· Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
· People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
· People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
· Children younger 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.)
· People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.