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Flu Vaccine


Updated September 26, 2013


There are two types of flu vaccine.
  • The "flu shot" - an inactivated vaccine (containing dead virus) that is given by intramuscular injection into the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

    Important Fact!
    This is the only vaccine suitable for people with HIV.

  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine - a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu.

    Important Fact!
    Because of the risk of infection, live virus vaccines should never be given to people with HIV.


  • Intermuscular injection (dead virus)
  • Nasal spray (live virus)

Who Should Be Vaccinated in 2008-2009?:

  • Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)


  • given every year
  • best if given between October and November but can be given anytime during the flu season (December through March)
  • may give with other vaccines but in a separate injection


  • previous anaphylactic reaction or sensitivity to eggs or other vaccine components
  • moderate or severe acute illness

Note: pregnancy or breast feeding is NOT a contraindication for taking the flu vaccine

For More Information:

To learn more about the injectable flu vaccine or the nasal spray Flumist, try About.com's Drug Finder.


Centers for Disease Control; "2008-09 Influenza Vaccine Updates"; Retrieved October 18, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/flu_vaccine_updates.htm.

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