The influenza vaccine comes in two types:
1.) Inactivated, or killed vaccine, which is given by injection with a needle
2.) Live, or attenuated (weakened) vaccine, which is sprayed into the nostril
The influenza viruses are always changing, and so each year scientists try to determine which viruses are going to cause the flu that year. In other words, a new vaccine is put together each year to prevent the flu for that season. It is for this reason that an annual vaccination is recommended. After a person receives the vaccine injection, it takes about two weeks for the protection to develop, and the protection lasts for about a year.
Some inactivated influenza vaccines contain a preservative called thimerosal while some vaccines are thimerosal-free. This has been a concern for many, but it has been shown not to be harmful to a pregnant woman or her baby, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all people 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Vaccination is especially important for people at a higher risk of severe influenza, including their close contacts. Some of these close contacts can be healthcare workers and children younger than 6 months.
You should get the vaccine as soon as it is available for the new season. Even though most influenza occurs from October through May, the flu season can occasionally come earlier, so get the protection as early as possible.
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