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Influenza (Flu) in Arizona
Preventing the Flu: Get Vaccinated!
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination every year. There are two types of vaccines:
- The "flu shot" - an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine - a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine"). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 2 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
When to Get Vaccinated
Everyone should get vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available each year. However, it is still beneficial for anyone who was not vaccinated in early fall to get vaccinated later in the fall or winter because most influenza activity typically occurs in January or later. Though it varies, flu season can last as late as May so it is never too late to get vaccinated.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year. Even healthy people should get vaccinated because they could spread the flu to someone who is at high risk for complications from the flu or who is not able to get a flu vaccine.
Flu Vaccination is especially important for:
- People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
- Children aged 6 months or older,
- Pregnant women,
- People 50 years of age and older,
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
- 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 (see above)
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
- Anyone who wants to decrease his or her risk of getting or spreading influenza.
Use of the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
Vaccination with the nasal spray vaccine is an option for healthy persons aged 2-49 years who are not pregnant. Healthy persons 2-49 years who live with or care for those in a high risk group can get the nasal spray vaccine. The one exception is healthy persons who care for those with severely weakened immune systems who require a protected environment; these healthy persons should get inactivated flu vaccine.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs. People with mild allergic reactions (hives) should still be vaccinated.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
- Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group).
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your healthcare provider.