Influenza: Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

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Influenza (in-flu-EN-za), also known as “the flu,” is an illness caused by a virus. See the Helping Hand, Influenza (“The Flu”), HH-I-245. Some groups of people are at higher risk for serious cases of the flu. Or they may be working around others who are at high risk.

The Centers for Disease Control strongly recommend that these groups receive the influenza (flu) shot:

Never give aspirin if you think your child has the flu
  • Young children, ages 6 to 23 months
  • Adults 65 years and older
  • People with chronic medical conditions (2 to 64 years of age)
  • Women who will be pregnant during the flu season
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Children who are getting chronic aspirin therapy (age 6 months to 18 years)
  • Healthcare workers directly involved in patient care
  • People in the home with children under 6 months of age
  • People who provide out-of-home care, such as day care or child care workers, for infants and young children, especially children under 6 months of age.

Who Should Not Get a Vaccine?

People who are allergic to eggs SHOULD NOT get this vaccine. Also, be sure to tell the doctor if your child has previously had a bad reaction to any shots.

Types of Vaccines

There are two types of vaccine: Injections (shots) and intranasal (taken in through the nose). When there is enough vaccine supply, influenza vaccine should be given to any adult or child who wants it.

  • The intranasal form of the flu vaccine is also available for healthy people ages 5 to 49 who are not pregnant but do not want to get a shot (vaccine injection).
  • Children or teenagers receiving aspirin or other salicylates should not get the intranasal vaccine.
  • Anyone caring for a person with a weak immune system should not get the intranasal vaccine.

Antibiotic medicines will not work against the virus that causes influenza. However, your child’s doctor may prescribe new antiviral medicines to treat influenza or antibiotics to treat some of the bacterial complications of influenza. If your child has pain or fever, you may also give Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen. Do not give your child aspirin! Do not give ibuprofen (Motrin) to children younger than 6 months.

If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

Influenza: Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine? (PDF)

HH-I-246 11/04 Copyright 2004, Nationwide Children's Hospital