Your Flu Season Toolkit
Everyone can benefit from getting a flu shot each year. Getting the shot improves chances of having a flu-free winter and also avoids transmitting the virus through contacts with people, especially those at high risk of flu-related complications.
Each year, a new flu vaccine must be prepared that will be effective against the flu virus strain circulating the globe. Find out how the flu shot makes its way from the lab to the doctor's office.
Certain groups should not be vaccinated. Immunization with currently available influenza vaccines is not recommended for infants <6 months of age. Persons who developed an anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine or to any of the vaccine components (with the exception of egg), or developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of influenza vaccination should not receive a further dose.
Persons with egg allergy may be safely vaccinated with inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV), without a prior influenza vaccine skin test, based on an assessment of risk for a severe allergic reaction to guide the method of vaccination. Two vaccine delivery protocols can be used for egg-allergic individuals, depending on their level of risk for an allergic reaction.
A number of chronic health conditions are associated with increased risk of influenza-related complications and influenza can lead to exacerbation of the chronic disease.
These conditions especially include:
Some studies have concluded that severely obese persons with and without chronic conditions are at increased risk for hospitalizations and complications from seasonal and pandemic influenza.
NACI recommends the inclusion of those who are morbidly obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥40) among high-priority recipients of influenza vaccine.
Such residents often have one or more chronic medical condition and live in institutional environments that may facilitate spread of the disease.
Seniors have the highest rate of hospitalization and death from the flu. Common complications of the flu for seniors include bacterial infection and pneumonia. Getting the flu shot helps to reduce the risk of serious complications and life-threatening illness. Research shows that the flu vaccine may be less effective in preventing infection in seniors. This means that it is important for all members of the family, health professionals and caregivers to get the flu shot to better protect seniors.
NACI has reviewed the burden of illness, and influenza vaccine effectiveness, efficacy, and safety for children 24 to 59 months of age, and now includes this age group among recommended recipients of seasonal influenza vaccine.
Children, 6 months to < 9 years who have never received the vaccine before, should receive two full doses (0.5 mL) with a minimum interval of four weeks between doses.
All children who have received a flu shot in the past should be given a full dose (0.5mL).
Expectant mothers, at any stage of pregnancy, should get a flu shot to protect themselves and their babies from the influenza virus. Pregnant women are at increased risk for complications from influenza. Research also demonstrates that vaccination of pregnant women protects their newborns from influenza and influenza-related hospitalization. Also, infants born during influenza season to vaccinated women are less likely to be premature, small for gestational age, and low birth weight.
Historically, Aboriginal status has been associated with increased risk of influenza-related complications including death. Similar findings were identified during the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.
Based on the body of evidence indicating a higher rate of influenza-associated hospitalization and death among Aboriginals, NACI recommends the inclusion of Aboriginal peoples among high-priority recipients of influenza vaccine.
People who are potentially capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk should receive an annual vaccination, regardless of whether the high-risk person has been immunized.
Those providing regular child care to children < 59 months of age whether in or out of the home.
Those who provide services (e.g., crews on ships) within closed or relatively closed settings to persons at high risk.
Vaccination for these individuals should be encouraged in order to minimize the disruption of routine activities during annual epidemics. Employers and their employees should consider yearly influenza immunization for healthy working adults, as this has been shown to decrease work absenteeism due to respiratory and other illnesses.
Refer to the recommendation for 2012-2013 for more information.