Flu Season is Here. What You Need to Know.

Who should be vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting seasonal flu or spreading seasonal flu to others can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high-risk persons.

Who is at higher risk?

* All children aged 6 months through 18 years of age

* All adults aged 50 years and older

* All women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season

* Residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities

* Individuals who have certain chronic medical conditions

* Health care workers who have direct contact with patients

* Household contacts of individuals at high risk for complications from the flu

* Caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age

Who should not get a flu shot?

Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:

* People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs

* People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past

* People who developed Guillian-Barré syndrome (GBS) 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 health-care provider.

When should I get vaccinated?

Yearly seasonal flu vaccination should begin in September, or as soon as the seasonal flu vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January or later.

Do I need to be vaccinated every year?

Yes, flu viruses change, so flu vaccines must change, too. Each year's vaccine is unique, cultivated from the flu strains health officials believe will be most common that year

How can I learn more about the seasonal flu?

* Ask your provider

* Call your local or state health department

* Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visiting CDC's website at www.cdc.gov/flu

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention