Influenza virus causes the true “flu,” which is a respiratory illness with fever, cough and body aches. Influenza can cause pneumonia, deafness and death in healthy people, but is particularly severe in patients with asthma, chronic lung disease or immune problems. The flu spreads by inhaling respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Each flu season, influenza infects 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population, hospitalizes over 100,000 people and kills more than 36,000 Americans. Influenza kills more Americans every year than all other vaccine-preventable illnesses combined.
Flu vaccine can be given as either a killed vaccine by injection or as an attenuated (weakened) live vaccine that is inhaled through the nose. The flu vaccine is updated every year in an attempt to prevent new strains that occur continually, over time. The inhaled vaccine is only appropriate for certain patients, so please ask us which one your child should be given. Side effects include local soreness, or mild fever and body aches. In very rare cases (about 1 per million doses), patients can develop Guillan-Barre Syndrome following influenza vaccination.