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Let’s Talk Flu Facts  

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Flu Fact and FictionYour flu facts for the 2013 -2014 season.

What should I do to prepare for flu season?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine each year.

Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone who is 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:

People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu.
This includes:

  • People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People 65 years and older.

People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications.This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

When should I get vaccinated?

CDC recommends people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as vaccines become available in their community. Influenza seasons are unpredictable, and can begin as early as October.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so availability depends on when production is completed. If everything goes as indicated by manufacturers, shipments normally begin in August and continue throughout September and October until all vaccine is distributed.

Doctors and nurses are encouraged to begin vaccinating their patients as soon as flu vaccine is available in their areas, even as early as August.

What sort of flu season is expected this year?

Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the epidemic depends on many factors, including what influenza viruses are spreading, whether they match the viruses in the vaccine, and how many people get the vaccine.

Will new flu viruses circulate this season?

Flu viruses are constantly changing so it's not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. For more information about how flu viruses change, visit How the Flu Virus Can Change.

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2013-2014?

Several flu vaccine options are available this season.

Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called "trivalent" vaccines) are available. In addition, this season flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called "quadrivalent" vaccines) also are available.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:

  • A standard dose quadrivalent shot
  • A standard dose quadrivalent flu vaccine, given as a nasal spray, approved for healthy* people 2 through 29 years of age

(*"Healthy" indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.)

CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.

What flu viruses does the vaccine protect against?

Fu vaccines are designed to protect against three or four influenza viruses experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.

The 2013-2014 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from the following three viruses:

  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
  • H3N2 virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011
  • B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus

Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional vaccine virus, a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

More information about influenza vaccines is available at Preventing Seasonal Flu With Vaccination on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or contact your community’s public health department.

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