Influenza, or flu, is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread from person to person. We are all at risk for getting and spreading the flu. If you have asthma or other lung diseases, you are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu. Health officials recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination each and every year. We encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider to learn more about influenza and annual vaccination.
Get a Flu Vaccine Every Year
The best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing. Each year, scientists work together to identify the virus strains that they believe will cause the most illness, and a new vaccine is made based on their recommendations.
- It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months receive the yearly influenza vaccine.
- Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Discuss this with your child’s healthcare provider.
- Children younger than 6 months of age are at higher risk of serious flu complications but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you and others in your family should get vaccinated to help protect them from the flu.
- A high potency flu vaccine is available for those over 65. Discuss this with your healthcare provider.
- The best time to get the flu vaccine is soon after it becomes available in the fall of each year.
The Flu Shot
Flu shots are injectable influenza vaccines given with a needle (usually in your arm). They work by helping our bodies produce antibodies that provide protection against infection with the virus strains in the vaccine. The amount of antibodies in the body is the greatest one to two months after vaccination and then gradually declines. After receiving the flu shot it usually takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity to influenza. Important things to know about the flu shot:
- The flu shot is safe for people with asthma.
- The flu shot is covered by Medicare and other health insurance.
- Most people experience little or no reaction to the flu shot. The most common side effect is a swollen, red, tender area where the vaccination is given.
- You cannot get the flu from the flu shot as it is made from either inactivated (killed) viruses or parts of the virus.