Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and sometimes can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each fall. Children 6 to 23 months of age are considered to be at high risk for flu complications and should be immunized. Consult your health care provider for more information regarding childhood flu immunization recommendations.
CDC recommends use of injectable influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines).
The “flu shot”— an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
The regular seasonal flu shot is “intramuscular,” which means it is injected into muscle (usually in the upper arm). It has been used for decades and is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, those with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. Regular flu shots make up the bulk of the vaccine supply produced for the United States.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body. Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent infection, but everyone must be re-vaccinated each year because the flu viruses change each year.