The most effective way of preventing the flu is with an influenza vaccination. Every fall you should be immunized against strains that have developed since the previous outbreak. If you are vaccinated against one or more strains, you may still come down with flu, but symptoms are likely to be milder than they would have been had you not had an influenza vaccination.
Influenza vaccine is available through physicians and public-health facilities and many companies provide flu vaccines on-site...
Some people get much sicker. Influenza can lead to pneumonia and can be dangerous for people with heart or breathing conditions. It can cause high fever, diarrhea, and seizures in children. On average, 226,000 people are hospitalized every year because of influenza and 36,000 die - mostly elderly.
Live, attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) contains live but attenuated (weakened) influenza virus. It is sprayed into the nostrils.
Inactivated influenza vaccine, sometimes called the “flu shot,” is given by injection. Inactivated influenza vaccine is described in a separate Vaccine Information Statement.
Influenza viruses are always changing. Because of this, influenza vaccines are updated every year, and an annual vaccination is recommended.
Each year scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu that year. When there is a close match the vaccine protects most people from serious influenza-related illness. But even when the there is not a close match, the vaccine provides some protection.
Influenza vaccine will not prevent “influenza-like” illnesses caused by other viruses. It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the vaccination. Protection lasts up to a year.
LAIV does not contain thimerosal or other preservatives.