By Lori Weiss MD
August 19, 2013
Category: Immunizations
Tags: Influenza   Vaccines  

What is Influenza and Why You Should Get Vaccinated?

Influenza ("flu") is a contagious disease that spreads around the United States every winter, usually between October and May.

Flu is caused by the influenza virus, and can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and close contact.

Anyone can get flu, but the risk of getting flu is highest among children. Symptoms come on suddenly and may last several days. They can include:

  • fever/chills
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose

Flu can make some people much sicker than others. These people include young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions - such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system. Flu vaccine is especially important for these people, and anyone in close contact with them.

Flu can also lead to pneumonia, and make existing medical conditions worse. Influenza can cause diarrhea and seizures in children.

Each year thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized.

Flu vaccine is the best protection we have from flu and its complications. Flu vaccine also helps prevent spreading flu from person to person.

Types of Influenza Vaccines:

There are two types of influenza vaccine.

1. Inactivated flu vaccine, which does not contain any live influenza virus, is given by injection with a needle and is known as the "flu shot." Getting the flu from the "flu shot" is not possible as the vaccine doesn't contain live virus particles.The injectable influenza vaccines that we have at Primary Care Associates are all thimerosol free.

  • We stock the new QIV (quadrivalent) influenza vaccine in formuations for patients older than 6 months of age.
  • We stock Intradermal Influenza vaccine. The intradermal flu vaccine uses a very fine needle that is 90% smaller than the needles used for regular flu shots. This may be helpful for people who don’t like needles.
  • We stock High Dose Influenza Vaccine for our patients over 65 years of age.


2. A different, live, attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine is sprayed into the nostrils. This vaccine is called Flumist. Patients who are eligible for Flumist include HEALTHY children and adults between 2-49 years of age. Pregnant women and patients with asthma, diabetes, immunosuppression due to medications or malignancies, or egg allergies are not candidates to receive Flumist.

Who Should Not Receive Influenza Vaccine at Primary Care Associates:

  • Patients with who have had any life threatening allergic reaction to influenza vaccine.
  • Some patients with anaphylactic reactions to eggs (as the type of vaccine that we stock containes a small amount of egg.)
  • Some patients with a prior history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness) should not receive this vaccine.

Please contact your physician by portal or phone with additional questions that you may have about vaccination against influenza.  The Physicians at Primary Care Associates recommend influenza vaccine for you and your family.