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Who Needs an Influenza Immunization?

Every year, thousands of people die from influenza or from its complications. People particularly vulnerable to the virus, including young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, should consider getting an influenza immunization. Those at high risk for exposure to the flu virus should also get the immunization.

Influenza immunizations can help most individuals avoid contracting the influenza virus. Those at particular risk not only for contracting the virus but for suffering complications should be immunized. Starting at the age of six months, children should be immunized at the beginning of the flu season. If they are under the age of nine and receiving a vaccination for the first time, they will need to receive two shots one month apart in order for the immunization to be effective.

Those in close contact with young children should also receive an influenza immunization, including members of the household, caregivers, teachers, and daycare workers. Pregnant women and women who will be pregnant at any time during the flu season should also receive an influenza immunization, protecting not only themselves but the baby.

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At the other end of the spectrum, individuals over the age of 50 are also advised to receive an influenza immunization. Additionally, healthcare workers and those who work or live in a nursing home or assisted living facility should be vaccinated. As with children, it is important that individuals in contact with people vulnerable to complications from the flu be protected against contracting the virus.

Those suffering from compromised immune systems should also receive an influenza immunization. This includes people living with or being treated for cancers, chronic liver disease, severe asthma, anemia, diabetes, kidney disease, or HIV/AIDS. Continued and ongoing treatment involving the use of steroids also puts an individual at risk.

There are two different types of influenza immunizations: a flu shot and a mist administered as a nasal spray. The flu shot has been approved for use in individuals over the age of two, while the mist is recommended only for those between the ages of two and 49. Unlike the flu shot, with which a person is injected with a dead flu virus in order to allow the body time to develop antibodies to fight the intruder, the nasal spray administers a weakened but live version of the virus.

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