Foodconsumer.org Editor's note: The following is what you need to know about CDC flu recommendation and some basics about flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that children ages 6 months to 18 years get flu shot each year.
Changes and Updates in the 2008 ACIP Recommendations
The 2008 recommendations include five
principal changes or updates:
Beginning with the 2008--09 influenza season, annual
vaccination of all children aged 5--18 years is recommended. Annual
vaccination of all children aged 5--18 years should begin in September or
as soon as vaccine is available for the 2008--09 influenza season, if
feasible, but annual vaccination of all children aged 5--18 years should
begin no later than during the 2009--10 influenza season.
Annual vaccination of all children aged 6 months--4
years (59 months) and older children with conditions that place them at
increased risk for complications from influenza should continue. Children
and adolescents at high risk for influenza complications should continue
to be a focus of vaccination efforts as providers and programs transition
to routinely vaccinating all children.
Either TIV or LAIV can be used when vaccinating healthy
persons aged 2--49 years. Children aged 6 months--8 years should receive 2
doses of vaccine if they have not been vaccinated previously at any time
with either LAIV or TIV (doses separated by 4 or more weeks); 2 doses are
required for protection in these children. Children aged 6 months--8 years
who received only 1 dose in their first year of vaccination should receive
2 doses the following year. LAIV should not be administered to children
aged <5 years with possible reactive airways disease, such as those who
have had recurrent wheezing or a recent wheezing episode. Children with
possible reactive airways disease, persons at higher risk for influenza
complications because of underlying medical conditions, children aged
6--23 months, and persons aged >49 years should receive TIV.
The 2008--09 trivalent vaccine virus strains are
A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like, A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like, and
Oseltamivir-resistant influenza A
(H1N1) strains have been identified in the United States and some other
countries. However, oseltamivir or zanamivir continue to be the recommended
antivirals for treatment of influenza because other influenza virus strains
remain sensitive to oseltamivir, and resistance levels to other antiviral
medications remain high.
Common Questions and Answers for flu
What is Influenza (Also Called Flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by
influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead
to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each
Every year in the United States, on average:
* 5% to 20% of
the population gets the flu;
* more than
200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications; and
* about 36,000
people die from flu.
Some people, such as older people, young children, and
people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart
disease), are at high risk for serious flu complications.
What are the symptoms of flu?
Symptoms of flu include:
* extreme tiredness
* dry cough
* sore throat
* runny or
* muscle aches
symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more
common in children than adults
What are complications of flu?
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear
infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical
conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
How does flu spread?
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through
coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become
infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their
mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day
before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that
you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are
sick, as well as while you are sick.
How can flu be prevented?
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu
vaccination each 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.
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 2-49 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 should a person get flu shots?
Yearly flu vaccinations should begin in September or as
soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into
December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of
influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as
October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.
Who should get flu immunization?
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of
getting the flu 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. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations
regarding priority groups for vaccination.
People who should get vaccinated each year are:
1. Children aged
6 months up to their 19th birthday
3. People 50 years
of age and older
4. People of any
age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who
live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. 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
Household contacts and out of home
caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young
to be vaccinated)
Who can use the nasal spray flu vaccine?
Vaccination with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option
for healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant, even healthy
persons who live with or care for those in a high risk group. The one exception
is healthy persons who care for persons with severely weakened immune systems
who require a protected environment; these healthy persons should get the
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 who
have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
* People who
developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza
* Children less
than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age
* 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.
How effective can a flu vaccine be?
The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on
the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity
or "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in
circulation. Testing has shown that both the flu shot and the nasal-spray
vaccine are effective at preventing the flu.
note: Normally the effectiveness may not exceed 45 percent.
But it depends on the definition. Health
officials have said even if the vaccine can’t completely prevent flu, recipients
would still be better off.
are mutating constantly and that is why you need to get flu vaccines each year.)
What are the common side effects of flu vaccines?
Different side effects can be associated with the flu
shot and LAIV.
The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated),
so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could
redness, or swelling where the shot was given
* Fever (low
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot
and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine
have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination
can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. As of July 1,
2005, people who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a
claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
LAIV (FluMist®): The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine
are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza
illness. (In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close
contacts has occurred only rarely.)
In children, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can
* runny nose
* muscle aches
In adults, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include
* runny nose
* sore throat
What viruses cause flu?
There are three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C.
Influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every
winter in the United States. Influenza type C infections cause a mild
respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics.
Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on
two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the
neuraminidase (N). There are 16 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 9
different neuraminidase subtypes, Influenza A viruses can be further broken
down into different strains. The current subtypes of influenza A viruses found
in people are A (H1N1) and A (H3N2).
Influenza B viruses are not divided into subtypes.
Influenza B viruses also can be further broken down into different strains.
Influenza A (H1N1), A (H3N2), and influenza B strains are
included in each year's influenza vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine can protect
against influenza A and B viruses. The flu vaccine does not protect against
influenza C viruses.
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