The Flu BasicsInfluenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. In addition, this season flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available.
Who should get vaccinated?Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine this season, it’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated.
Those people include the following:
People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older.
A complete list is available at People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications (see list above).
Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old.
Health care personnel.
Who should NOT get vaccinated?Influenza vaccine is not approved for children younger than 6 months of age.
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine should generally not be vaccinated.
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician.
People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with or without a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated), and
People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
For more information visit the NJ Department of Health NJDOH flu website