Everyone should get a flu vaccine annually!
Well, almost everyone should get a flu vaccine (see bottom of this page for the rare exceptions).
Every year in the United States between 12,000 and 56,000 people die from "the flu" (influenza). Many people die because of complications such as pneumonia, and most are either elderly or have other illnesses such as cancer. Even young healthy people can die from influenza, and some of these deaths occur suddenly without sufficient time to get medical treatment.
In addition between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations occur. Up to 35 million cases of influenza occur in the United States every year!
All "high risk" patients should get a flu vaccine starting in August of each calendar year. High risk patients include children under the age of 5, adults 65 or older, pregnant women and those who are nursing babies, resident of nursing homes and other long-term facilities, school or university students who live in dormitories, and anyone on long-term medical therapy especially cancer chemotherapy or being treated for HIV.
It is strongly recommended that everyone have a flu vaccine even if they do not fit the "high risk" category. Because influenza is transmitted very easily to others who are within the same room or up to 6 feet away in the open air, vaccinating everyone reduces the spread of the disease. Healthy appearing adults can spread the disease for one day before symptoms develop and up to a week after getting the disease.
What you can do to prevent influenza ("Flu"): https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/index.html
What do you need to know about influenza ("Flu")? https://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm
Flu vaccines are very safe. Despite any previous personal experiences or anything that someone has told you, it is impossible to get influenza or any other respiratory disease from a flu vaccination. If you get sick after the flu vaccine, it is because you are already developing an illness before you got the vaccine or you develop a non-flu respiratory illness like the common cold. Here is more detailed information on flu vaccine safety: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/general.htm
Who should not receive a flu shot:
- While most people can have a flu shot without any problem, there are extremely rare patients who have severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or its ingredients.
- Children younger than 6 months old should not have a flu vaccine (but their parents, siblings, and caretakers should!)
People who should talk to their doctor before getting the flu shot include:
- People who have an allergy to eggs (Guidelines for a egg allergies have changed. If you have only had a rash or hives after eating egg yolks, it is probably safe to have the flu vaccine.)
- People who have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Antimicrobial therapy is not a contraindication to vaccination, with several exceptions:
- Antibacterial agents may interfere with the response to oral typhoid vaccine.
- Antiviral agents active against herpesviruses (such as acyclovir) may interfere with the response to varicella-containing vaccines.
- Antiviral agents active against influenza virus (such as zanamivir and oseltamivir) may interfere with the response to live attenuated influenza vaccine.
- Antibiotics may interfere with the response to the new oral cholera vaccine.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has information on many frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine. You can find them here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-seasonhttps://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm-2017-2018.htm