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Influenza Flu

Flu vaccines will NOT be available at SLAC '04-'05 Flu Season

We recommend people needing flu-shots to go to one of these referrals:

What is Influenza ("FLU")?

Influenza (or flu) is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs that can make someone of age ill. Usually the flu occurs in the United States from November to about April. If you are infected with the flu virus, you may have fever, chills, cough, and soreness, aching in your back, arms, and legs. Although most people are ill for only a few days, some persons may have worse illnesses and may need to go to the hospital. On average, thousands of people die in the United States each year from flu related complications.

Who should get the Influenza Vaccine?

Because influenza is usually mild and most people recover fully, health officials emphasize the use of the vaccine for the elderly and people with other health problems most likely to become seriously ill or die from flu or its complications. For example, people who after even light exercise become short of breath due to diseases affecting their heart and lungs, and people who have low resistance to infections are likely to be more seriously affected by the flu.

The following groups are at highest risks for serious illnesses in regards to the flu and have been recommended to receive the vaccine:

  • Adults and children with long-term heart or lung problems that cause them to regularly see a doctor, or be admitted to a hospital for care during the past year.
  • Residents of nursing homes and other institutions housing patients of any age who have serious long- term health problems

Other health groups who are at moderately increased risk for serious illnesses with the flu and whom public health authorities feel should be vaccinated if possible include:

  • Healthy people over 55 years of age
  • People of any age who during the past year have seen a doctor, or been admitted to a hospital for treatment of kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, anemia or severe asthma.
  • People who have a type of cancer or immunological disorder (or use certain types of medicine) that lowers the body’s normal resistance to infections
  • Children and teenagers (6 months through 18 years of age) on long-term treatment with aspirin, who if they catch the flu, may be at risk of getting Reyes syndrome (a childhood disease that causes coma, liver damage and death)

Certain medical staff that provides care to high-risk patients in health facilities also should be vaccinated, to reduce the possibility that these patients might catch the flu when receiving medical care. Family members or others who provide care to high-risk persons at home also should be vaccinated. The possibility for spreading the flu to high-risk persons can be reduced by vaccinating.

  • Doctors, nurses and others who have extensive contact with high risk patients, such as specialists and staff of intensive care units.
  • Individuals who provide care to high-risk persons at home, such as visiting nurses and volunteers, as well as household members, including children, whether or not they are providers of care.

In addition a flu shot should be given to anyone who wishes to reduce his/her chances of catching the flu.

INFLUENZA VACCINE:

The viruses that cause the flu frequently change; people who have been infected or given a flu shot in previous years may become infected with a new strain. Because of this, and because any immunity produced by the flu shot will decrease in the year after vaccination, persons in high risk group should be vaccinated every year. This year’s flu shot provides immunity against the types of flu that which are thought to be the most likely to occur in the United States this winter. All viruses in the vaccine are killed so that they cannot infect anyone. Vaccine will begin to provide its protective effect after one or two weeks and immunity may decrease after several months. Flu shots will not protect all persons who get them against the flu. They will also not protect against other illnesses that resemble the flu.

Primary Changes and Updates in the Recommendations:

The 2003 recommendations include five principal changes or updates:

  1. The optimal time to receive influenza vaccine continues to be October and November. However, because of vaccine distribution delays during 2000--2002, ACIP recommends that vaccination efforts in October focus on persons aged >50 years and those aged 6--23 months, persons aged 2--49 years with certain medical conditions that place them at increased risk for influenza-related complications, children aged <9 years receiving influenza vaccine for the first time, health-care workers, and household contacts of persons at high risk, and that vaccination of other groups begin in November.
  2. Because young, otherwise healthy children are at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalization, influenza vaccination of healthy children aged 6--23 months continues to be encouraged when feasible. Vaccination of children aged >6 months who have certain medical conditions continues to be strongly recommended.
  3. The 2003--2004 trivalent inactivated vaccine virus strains are A/Moscow/10/99 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like, and B/Hong Kong/330/2001-like antigens (for the A/Moscow/10/99 [H3N2]-like antigen, manufacturers will use the antigenically equivalent A/Panama/2007/99 [H3N2] virus, and for the B/Hong Kong/330/2001-like antigen, manufacturers will use either B/Hong Kong/330/2001 or the antigenically equivalent B/Hong Kong/1434/2002).
  4. A limited amount of influenza vaccine with reduced thimerosal content, including 0.25-mL single-dose syringe preparations for children aged 6--35 months, should be available for the 2003--04 influenza season.
  5. Influenza vaccine for the U.S. market will be available from two manufacturers in 2003--04, compared with three manufacturers in 2002--03.

Dosage:

Only a single flu shot is needed each season for persons older than 12 years, but children 12 or younger may need a second shot after a month. Children should only receive the vaccine that has been chemically treated during manufacture (split-virus) to reduce chances of any side effects. Adults can also use the split- virus vaccine.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS FROM VACCINE:

Most people have no side effects from the influenza vaccine. Flu shots are given by injections usually into the muscle of the upper arm. This may cause soreness for a day or two at the injection site and occasionally may cause fever or achiness for one or two days. Unlike the 1976 swine flu vaccine, recent flu shots have not been linked to paralytic illness, Guillain Barre Syndrome. As in the case with most drugs or vaccines, there is a possibility that allergic or more serious reactions, or even death could occur with the flu shot.

YOU SHOULD CHECK WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING INFLUENZA VACCINE IF:

  • Any persons who has an allergy to eggs that causes dangerous reactions when they eat eggs
  • Anyone who has ever been paralyzed with Guillain Barre
  • Any woman who might be or is pregnant should seek advise from their doctor about special risks

Persons who are ill with fever should delay vaccination until the fever and other temporary symptoms have gone.

QUESTIONS:
If you have any questions about influenza or influenza vaccine, please ask now or call your doctor.



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