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Health Services

Flu Vaccine

EphNotes

Many times “the flu” or influenza can be a major annoyance, keeping you home from class or work and making you feel awful. For some people, it can cause complications that are life threatening. This is the reason certain people should make sure they receive a vaccination for influenza each year before the start of the flu season.

We know that children need to stay up to date on their immunizations, but adults should stay up to date on theirs, as well. Ask your health care practitioner which immunizations he or she recommends for your particular situation.

What is influenza?

Influenza is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus. The virus infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Influenza usually causes fever, chills, a dry cough, headache, body aches, and fatigue. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are rare in adults with influenza. What people call the “stomach flu” is actually caused by another virus. Influenza is a more serious condition than a cold and can be life threatening for some people, so it is important to be vaccinated if you are at risk.

Who should receive a flu vaccination?

  • People who have a health problem such as heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, asthma, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems, such as people living with HIV/AIDS or other disorders of the immune system, people receiving long-term treatment with certain drugs that affect the immune system, and people receiving cancer treatment with radiation or drugs that affect the immune system
  • Anyone who is 6 months to 18 years of age receiving long-term treatment with aspirin because they could develop Reye syndrome if they catch influenza
  • Women who will be past the third month of their pregnancy during the influenza season (in the U.S. roughly November – April)
  • Health care workers and others (such as doctors, nurses, or their family members) who may come into close contact with people at risk of having influenza

Symptoms

Flu

Cold

Fever

Characteristic, high (102-104° F); lasts 3-4 days

Rare

Headache

Prominent

Rare

General Aches, Pains

Usual; often severe

Slight

Fatigue, Weakness

Can last up to 2-3 weeks

Quite mild

Extreme Exhaustion

Early and prominent

Never

Stuffy Nose

Sometimes

Common

Sneezing

Sometimes

Usual

Sore Throat

Sometimes

Common

Chest Discomfort, Cough

Common; can become severe

Mild to moderate; hacking cough

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