Influenza virus vaccine is used to prevent infection by the influenza viruses. The vaccine works by causing your body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the disease. It is also known as a “flu shot”.

There are many kinds of influenza viruses, but not all will cause problems in any given year. Therefore, before the influenza vaccine is produced each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. and Canadian Public Health Services decide which viruses will most likely cause influenza infections for that year. The antigens, which are substances that cause protective antibodies to be formed, for these viruses are included in the influenza vaccine. Usually, the U.S. and Canada use the same influenza vaccine; however, they are not required to do so.

It is necessary to receive an influenza vaccine injection each year, since influenza infections are usually caused by different kinds of viruses and the protection gained by the vaccine lasts less than a year.

Influenza is a virus infection of the throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs. Influenza infection causes fever, chills, cough, headache, muscle aches, and pains in your back, arms, and legs. In addition, adults and children weakened by other diseases or medical conditions, and persons 50 years of age and over, even if they are healthy, may get a much more serious illness that may have to be treated in a hospital. Each year thousands of people die as a result of an influenza infection.

The best way to help prevent influenza infections is to get an influenza vaccination each year, usually in early November. Immunization (getting a vaccine) against influenza is approved for infants 6 months of age and older, all children, and all adults (including 65 years of age and older).

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  • influenza virus vaccine
  • If any of the following side effects occur while taking influenza virus vaccine, inactivated, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

    Incidence not known:
    Cough
    difficulty with swallowing
    dizziness
    fast heartbeat
    hives, itching, or skin rash
    puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
    tightness in the chest
    unusual tiredness or weakness
    Severity: Minor
    Some of the side effects that can occur with influenza virus vaccine, inactivated may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

    More common:
    Difficulty with moving
    headache
    joint pain
    muscle aching or cramping
    muscle pains or stiffness
    nausea
    pain at the injection site
    swollen joints
    Less common:
    Chills
    redness, bruising, or swelling at the injection site
  • (influenza a virus vaccine) injection, suspension