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Influenza and Adults

Influenza (the “flu”) is a contagious viral infection primarily of the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu is caused only by the influenza virus, but many people confuse illnesses caused by other viruses or bacteria, including severe colds (rhinovirus) or “the stomach flu” (norovirus and other viruses and bacteria) with influenza.

Why vaccinate adults against influenza?

  • Depending on the severity of circulating strains, the flu kills between 3,000 and 49,000 individuals in the US annually.
  • Influenza can cause serious complications in people with a variety of chronic illnesses, including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and immunosuppression.
  • In the US, as many as one in five individuals get influenza each year, and while the virus can be mild in some years, it can be very severe in others, causing debilitating illness and death even in previously healthy people.
  • Direct medical costs of a moderately severe seasonal influenza outbreak average more than $10 billion.

Which adults need influenza vaccine?

  • All adults need influenza vaccine every year.
  • You can get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your area or anytime during the influenza season.
  • Adults with certain health conditions including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, a liver or kidney disorder, or a weakened immune system are at especially high-risk for influenza and its complications. In most cases, they should also be vaccinated for pneumococcal disease.

Do You Know the Dangers of Flu among Individuals with Chronic Health Conditions?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious and potentially deadly virus that can result in serious complications for individuals living with chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease and diabetes, even when chronic conditions are well-controlled. It is estimated that 31% of US adults age 50-64 years and 47% of those age 65 years and older have at least one chronic health condition that puts them at high risk for flu-related complications, including hospitalization, catastrophic disability, and even death. In fact, 90% of flu- related deaths and the majority of flu-related hospitalizations occur in older adults—the individuals most likely to be living with chronic health conditions.

Influenza and COVID-19

Getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 means fewer people will need to take time off work, seek medical care and get tested for possible COVID-19 or influenza. You can receive COVID-19 and other vaccines during the same visit.

Influenza and Pregnancy

Pregnant women are at increased risk for complications from influenza (flu). Complications include pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death. Public health officials recommend influenza vaccination for women who are pregnant or will be pregnant during the flu season.

Pregnant women can be vaccinated during any trimester with the inactivated, injectable influenza vaccine (they should not receive the nasal spray vaccine).

Influenza and Adolescents

Everyone age 6 months or older–including adolescents–should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year.

Influenza and Children

Everyone age 6 months or older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year.

Influenza, also called the flu, is . Flu is a serious illness that leads to thousands of hospitalizations, most in children younger than 5 years of age. It is estimated that an average of 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized due to flu complications each year.

Influenza (flu) should not be confused with a bad cold or “stomach flu.” Flu is a contagious viral infection of the nose and throat but is much more serious than the common cold. In mild cases, flu causes high fever, head and body aches, coughing for days, severe fatigue for up to two weeks or more. Anyone can get the flu, but infection rates are highest among children (~20-30% annually). Certain people may be at increased risk for developing influenza-related complications, including pregnant women and infants younger than 6 months of age.

Those younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated against influenza, but they are at the greatest risk of hospitalization due to influenza-related complications. To create a protective “cocoon” of immunity around unvaccinated infants, parents should get older siblings, themselves, and all others who come in close contacts with the baby immunized.

Children younger than 9 years of age may require more than one dose of influenza vaccine to be fully protected. Parents and caregivers should talk to their child’s pediatrician or other healthcare professional about how many doses their child may need this season.

About Flu

 Influenza, also called the flu, is a contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs, that can cause severe illness. It is a serious infection that affects between 5-20% of the US population annually. During the 2017-2018 season, an estimated 900,000 individuals were hospitalized and nearly 80,000 deaths occurred in the US from flu and flu-related complications. The highest rate of influenza infection in the US is in school-aged children. 

Influenza is spread easily from person to person. When someone who has the flu sneezes, coughs, or even talks, the virus passes into the air and may be breathed in by anyone close by. Influenza can cause serious complications in healthy people of all ages and particularly among people with pre-existing conditions. Influenza vaccine is needed every year for the best protection.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza can come on very suddenly and usually includes a high fever with fatigue, aches, headache, cough, sore throat, a runny nose, and muscle pain. Children may have additional symptoms such as earaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How can individuals prevent getting influenza?

Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza. The vaccine is safe and effective, and is given to tens of millions of individuals each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a three-pronged approach: influenza vaccination, use of antiviral medications for treatment or prevention, and use of other measures to decrease the spread of influenza, including hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and staying home from work and school when ill.

Who should be vaccinated?

Everyone age 6 months or older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year.

When should individuals get vaccinated?

Influenza usually circulates during the fall and winter each year in the United States, but it is impossible to tell exactly when activity will begin in a given area. Following vaccination, it takes about two weeks to become fully protected against influenza, so it is important to get immunized as soon as vaccine is available in your community. Getting the influenza vaccine anytime throughout the season continues to be beneficial. The immunity from vaccination continues to be protective throughout the fall, winter, and early spring.

How often do individuals need to be vaccinated?

The influenza vaccine is updated each year to protect against the viruses expected to circulate during the upcoming season. Individuals need to be vaccinated every year because the virus can change and the immune protection from the vaccine can decline over time. Most people only need one vaccine dose, but children younger than 9 years of age may need two doses of influenza vaccine to be fully protected.

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