Milken Institute School of Public Health
Gillings School of Global Public Health
This time of year, public health officials usually encourage citizens to get their flu shots. Generally, the CDC recommends that everyone who is 6 months or older should have a flu vaccine as soon as the most current shots are available to the public. Public health experts say that getting a yearly flu vaccine is the most critical way to protect yourself from flu viruses.
This year, there are three types of flu that you need to protect yourself from: influenza A H3N2, influenza A H1N1 and influenza B. According the the CDC, the H1N1 virus that is in the current flu vaccine is the H1N1 influenza virus from 2009. Scientists believe that this virus is continuing to circulate in the US in 2012.
In addition to getting your latest flu vaccine, there are other things that you can do to reduce your chances of getting a serious flu bug. For example, always be sure to cover your nose and mouth when you need to sneeze or cough. This helps to prevent the spread of mucous and saliva in your nose and mouth that could have germs. Also, you should always remember to wash your hands well with soap. This is particularly important because when you touch yourself with dirty hands, such as your eyes or mouth, you can increase the risk of infection.
If you or one of your children becomes ill with any type of respiratory illness, including flue, try to keep him or her from contacting anyone else. You or your child should stay home for a minimum of 24 hours even after the fever is gone.
Are the Vaccines Safe?
One issue always high in the public’s mind is if the new vaccines are safe. According to public health experts, the 2012 flu vaccine is thought to have a safety profile that is very similar to those in the recent past. Over the last few decades, hundreds of millions of citizens have received flu vaccines safely. The common side effects are not serious, and include redness, soreness and swelling where the flu shot was given. The incidence of serious side effects to these vaccines are extremely rare.
A new higher dose vaccine was given in 2010 to adults who are older than 65. It was expected to induce a more intense immune response in the patient receiving the shot. Another new shot called FluZone Intradermal was also first licensed to be used in 2011. This vaccine is given into the skin, not the muscle. It requires a smaller amount of the vaccine than with a regular shot. This shot is recommended for adults that are 18 to 64 years old.
Resources About Vaccines