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What is Influenza?

Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection spread from person-to-person primarily by respiratory droplets created by coughing, sneezing, or talking. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Complications of the flu can include ear and sinus infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.

Anyone can get flu. Flu strikes suddenly and can last several days. Symptoms vary by age, but can include:

  • fever/chills
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose

Why get a flu vaccination every year?

Flu viruses are constantly changing; flu vaccine may be updated from one season to the next to protect individuals against the most recent and most commonly circulating viruses. A person's protection from vaccination declines over time and an annual vaccination is needed and recommended for optimal protection.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recommends annual vaccination against flu for all people six months of age and older, unless they have a condition or medical reason not to get the vaccine. It is especially important for young children, pregnant women, older people and people with chronic health problems.

Can I get the flu from the vaccine?

No.The most common side effect associated with receiving a flu vaccine is a sore arm when receiving the flu shot. You are not fully protected from the flu until two weeks after receiving the vaccine. There is no live flu virus in flu shots. They cannot cause the flu.

If I had the flu already this season, am I protected for the rest of the year?

No. While you may have developed immunity against the virus that infected you, it does not guarantee that you have immunity against other flu viruses that are circulating the same season.

What can I do to protect myself from getting the flu?

  • Wash your hands.
  • Get the flu vaccine each year.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover you mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Who should not get the flu vaccination?

  • If you have any severe, life-threatening allergies.

                If you ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine, you may be advised not to get vaccinated. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg protein.

  • If you ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (also called GBS).

               Some people with a history of GBS should not get this vaccine. This should be discussed with your doctor.

  • If you are not feeling well.

               It is usually okay to get the flu vaccine when you have a mild illness, but you might be asked to come back when you feel better.