Influenza Vaccine


In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for influenza vaccine (flu vaccine inactivated).

What it’s for & How to take

Two types of influenza vaccine are available. First, there is the inactivated flu vaccine, which does not contain any live influenza virus. This medication is the standard Flu Shot and is given by injection with a needle. The second flu vaccine is the live vaccine that is sprayed into the nostrils as a single dose.

This session covers information for the first flu vaccine, the Flu Shot. We will discuss the live vaccine (nasal spray) in a separate session.

Inactivated flu vaccine does not contain live flu virus, so it is not possible to get the flu from this vaccination.

Influenza, called the flu, is very contagious and it spreads throughout the United States every winter, usually between October and May. Influenza may easily be transmitted to others through coughing, sneezing, and close contact.

Everyone can get the flu; however, the risk of getting the flu is highest among children. Symptoms may come on suddenly and possibly last several days. Symptoms may include:

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

The Flu Vaccine is recommended every year. The Flu Virus is always changing, and each year’s vaccine is made specifically to protect from the viruses that are most likely to cause the infection that year.

The standard flu shot is approved for individuals 6 months of age or older; however, different manufacturers may be approved for different age groups. If you are unsure whether you or your child should receive a flu vaccine this year, discuss it with your healthcare practitioner.

After you receive your vaccination, it will take about 2 weeks for protection to develop. The protection will then last for several months up to an entire year.

Most Important Warnings

  • You should not receive the flu vaccination if you have ever had any severe, life-threatening allergy after a flu vaccine or if you have a severe allergy to any part of the vaccine.
  • You should not receive the flu vaccination if you have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome-a severe paralyzing illness
  • If you are currently not feeling well your health care provider may suggest you postpone the flu vaccine for a week or two.

Other Warnings & Cautions

  • It is possible that some people who acquire the Flu may become much sicker than others. People at greater risk for severe symptoms include young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with compromised health condition; including heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system. The flu vaccine is especially important for these people and anyone in close contact with them who may spread the disease.
  • Thousands of people in the United States die from the flu each year, and many more are hospitalized.
  • The best protection we have from flu and to help prevent spreading the flu from person to person is the flu vaccine.
  • Someone with a minor illness, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. Anyone with a moderate or severe illness should wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. If you have any questions as to whether you should receive this vaccine, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Before receiving the Flu Vaccination, make sure your healthcare provider is aware of all your medication allergies, the medication you take, and your complete medical history. Your description of your allergies, medications and medical history will help your pharmacist or doctor decide whether it is safe for you to receive this vaccination.
  • After receiving the Flu Vaccine, you may experience some redness, soreness, swelling or perhaps some itching at the site of injection. It is possible that you may also experience a headache, a slight fever, and some body aches. If these or any other side effects persist or worsen, please notify your pharmacist or doctor to discuss it.
  • Serious adverse reactions to this vaccination are extremely rare; however, seek immediate medical attention if you experience signs of a serious allergic reaction such as itching or swelling of the tongue or throat, severe dizziness or trouble breathing.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20