The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends annual flu vaccination for all Americans over the age of 6 months.
Each year's seasonal flu vaccine contains protection from the three or four influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during that year's flu season. The vaccine is typically available as an injection or as a nasal spray.
Controlling the spread of infection
The influenza vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, so it's also important to take measures to reduce the spread of infection:
Oct. 21, 2014
- Wash your hands. Thorough and frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren't readily available.
- Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
- Avoid crowds. Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection. And, if you're sick, stay home so that you don't infect others.
- Labella AM. Influenza. Medical Clinics of North American. 2013;97:621.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed June 19, 2014.
- Dolin R. Epidemiology of influenza. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 19, 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Prevention and control of seasonal influenza with vaccines. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2013-2014. MMWR. 2013;62:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6207a1.htm?s_cid=rr6207a1_w. Accessed June 15, 2014.
- Zachary KC. Treatment of seasonal influenza in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 15, 2014.
- CDC recommendations for influenza antiviral medications remain unchanged. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/media/haveyouheard/stories/Influenza_antiviral2.html. Accessed June 19, 2014.
- Selecting viruses for the seasonal influenza vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/vaccine-selection.htm#composition. Accessed June 15, 2014.
- Preventing the flu: Good health habits can help stop germs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm. Accessed June 19, 2014.
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