Flu in Adults (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Is It Possible to Prevent Flu in Adults?
The best means of preventing the flu is getting an influenza vaccination. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Two general types of vaccines are available. One is the injectable vaccine (known as the flu shot) made from inactivated virus. The flu shot contains only killed influenza viruses A and B. The other is a live attenuated, or weakened, virus that is squirted into the nose. This is called intranasal vaccine or nasal spray vaccine. The intranasal form is available for certain people who may prefer it to a shot, and it is approved for people from 2 through 49 years of age. It is not recommended for people who are immunosuppressed or have other conditions (see below for a list). In addition, there are variations such as the quadrivalent flu shot, which contains two type A viruses and 2 type Bs rather than the standard trivalent that has two type As and one type B. There is a high-dose shot formulation for people over 65 years of age and an intradermal (into the skin) version for people ages 18-65, and it uses a tiny needle. In August 2014, the FDA approved Afluria, which is injected into the muscle through a needle-free jet injector. A complete listing of flu vaccines that are currently available can be found at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4072.pdf.
An important point is that no one vaccine is recommended over the others and one should not delay getting vaccinated in order to wait for one of the others if there is a vaccine available.
The influenza vaccine is given every year prior to flu season. Immunity to the flu virus develops after about two weeks. The CDC recommends that vaccine be given starting as soon as it becomes available each fall.
The composition of the flu vaccine for the 2015-16 season contains two strains of influenza A (an H1N1 strain and an H3N2 strain) and one strain of influenza B viruses (except for the quadrivalent vaccine which contains two different strains of influenza B).
Currently, the CDC does not recommend one type of flu vaccine (nasal vs. shot or trivalent (three strains) vs. quadrivalent (four strains) over another.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/30/2015
Steven Fine, MD, PhD
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Influenza virus infection, one of the most common infectious diseases, is a highly contagious airborne disease that causes an acute febrile illness and results in variable degrees of systemic symptoms, ranging from mild fatigue to respiratory failure and death.