This medication is used to prevent infection by the influenza ("flu") virus. It is also called the seasonal flu shot. Influenza can cause serious illness (rarely death), especially in people at high risk from the infection (such as young children, the elderly, and people with chronic health problems). Vaccines work by causing the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus.
Vaccination is the best method for preventing infection and decreasing the seriousness of illness if you become infected. The brand and dose of vaccine you receive depends on your age. Influenza vaccination is not recommended in infants less than 6 months old.
As with any vaccine, it may not fully protect everyone who receives it. Since different types of flu viruses cause infection every flu season, usually a new vaccine is produced and given for each flu season.
The medication is usually given by injection into a muscle by a health care professional. Adults and children usually receive the injection in the upper arm, and infants receive it in the upper thigh.
The vaccination is usually given in the time from September to November when the number of cases of influenza virus begins to increase (the start of "flu season"). Only one dose is required for people aged 9 years and older. Children under 9 years of age may receive a second dose depending on when the first dose was given. Discuss the dose schedule with your doctor.
Soreness/redness/swelling/bruising at the injection site may occur and may last for up to 1-2 days. Fever, muscle aches, headache or weakness may also occur. If any of these effects continue beyond 2 days or become bothersome, tell your doctor.
Infrequently, temporary symptoms such as fainting/dizziness/lightheadedness, vision changes, numbness/tingling, or seizure-like movements have happened after vaccine injections. Tell your health care provider right away if you have any of these symptoms soon after receiving an injection. Sitting or lying down may relieve symptoms.
If your doctor has directed you to receive this vaccine, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes, seizures.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, severe dizziness, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), trouble breathing.
Contact your doctor for medical advice about side effects. The following numbers do not provide medical advice, but in the US, you may report side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before receiving this vaccination, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to any other vaccines; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as latex, eggs/chicken products found in some brands), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: any fever, uncontrolled seizures or other nervous system disorder (such as encephalopathy), bleeding disorders (such as hemophilia, thrombocytopenia), history of Guillain-Barre syndrome, immune system disorders (such as autoimmune disorders, radiation treatment), seizures (such as epilepsy controlled by medication, febrile seizures) or history of other nervous system disorders, vaccination history including previous reactions to any vaccines.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: "blood thinners" (such as warfarin, heparin), corticosteroids (such as hydrocortisone, prednisone), cancer chemotherapy, immunosuppressants (such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus).
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Vaccination may be given to anyone wishing to reduce the chance of getting the flu. For optimal protection, the vaccine must be repeated each year since it may contain different strains than previous years.
Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Protect from light. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Information last revised October 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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