Document Preview
  • Full Text
  • Scholarly Journal

Information from your family doctor: Influenza vaccine

; Leawood Vol. 60, Iss. 7,  (Nov 1, 1999): 2069-2070.

Full text preview


Influenza (also called "the flu") is a viral infection in the nose, throat and lungs. About 10 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year. Some people get very sick. Each year, about 130,000 people go to a hospital with the flu, and 20,000 people die because of the flu and complications.

The flu may cause fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or a stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Some people describe the flu as the worst cold of their life. If you get the flu, you should feel better after one or two weeks. But in some people, the flu leads to serious, even life-threatening diseases, like pneumonia. Some people are more likely to get the serious complications. A vaccine (the flu shot) is recommended for these high-risk people to protect them from the flu.

Who is at higher risk?

You have a higher risk of flu complications if you:

* Are 50 years of age or older

* Are a health care worker

* Have a lung problem, such as asthma or emphysema

* Have a suppressed immune system

* Have a problem with your kidneys

* Have diabetes, heart disease or other long-term health problems

If you are in any of these risk groups, you should get the flu vaccine every year.

Even some low-risk people should get the vaccine because they might spread the flu to high-risk people. You should get the vaccine if you're a health care worker or if you live (or work) in a long-term care facility. And even if you're not at higher risk, you may want to get the flu vaccine so you don't get sick with the flu.

What is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is a shot. It contains killed viruses. You can't get...