The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness. Every year, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized because of the flu. About 36,000 of those people die from the flu every year. Those most at risk for serious flu complications are pregnant women, young children (less than 6 months of age), older individuals (more than 65 years old) and people with certain health conditions such as chronic heart or lung disease.
Ways to receive the flu vaccine:
- School of Medicine faculty may be vaccinated at the Semi-Annual Medical Staff meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 5:30 p.m. at the Friday Center.
- School of Medicine employees should follow up with the Immunization Review Program.
- If you do not qualify for the Immunization Review Program, UNC Environment, Health & Safety holds a flu shot clinic. Contact John Covely at 962-6975 for more information.
- Faculty and staff who work in a health care setting may get a flu shot at the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (UEOHC). Please call the UEOHC at 966-9119 for an appointment. Walk-in hours will be set up soon.
- Other faculty and staff who do not work in a health care setting should contact their health care provider (the State Health Plan should pay for it) or take advantage of the flu clinic offered by local drug stores.
- Students may get a flu shot at the UNC Student Health Service. Please call 966-6573 for an appointment.
There are two kinds of flu vaccines available in the United States:
- One vaccine is an "inactivated" vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. In an adult, the vaccine is given in the upper arm. Since it contains killed virus, it is impossible to get the flu from taking the vaccine. The flu vaccine is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. It is also recommended for pregnant women.
- The other vaccine is the nasal-spray flu vaccine, which is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine"). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 2 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant or immunocompromised.
- The vaccine, like any medication, may rarely cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. If these problems occur, they begin soon after the vaccine and usually last one to two days. The most common side effects are soreness in the area of the vaccine injection, low-grade fever and aches.
Because of medical conditions, some persons should avoid the flu vaccine. These populations include:
- Those with a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- Those with a severe reaction to a flu vaccination in the past.
- Those who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting a flu vaccine previously.
- Children less than six months old.
- Those who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until symptoms lessen.