Influenza, often shortened as "the flu", is a serious viral disease that can cause numerous complications. A bout with severe influenza can lead to missed work, pain and in some cases even hospitalization. That's why it's recommended that most people get a seasonal flu shot.
The flu vaccine is recommended for children over six months and all adults. This is especially important for certain high risk groups or people that carry a high risk of infecting others. Those groups include:
Even though these are the groups most at risk for contracting or spreading influenza, it's still recommended that most other people receive the vaccine. The flu can lead to such debilitating complications as pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections. Conditions such as diabetes and asthma can also be worsened by the virus.
It's estimated that as many as 40,000 people die from influenza each year. Unlike other vaccines, which can protect you for your entire lifetime, the flu vaccine must be received every year. That's because influenza is a rapidly-changing virus.
Despite what you may have heard, it is not possible to contract influenza from a flu vaccine. The version of influenza used in a flu shot is already dead when injected in to you, making virus contraction scientifically impossible.
The flu shot is administered with a needle to the arm. For those who cannot receive injection-based medications, there is a throat-spray version available as an alternative. Both flu vaccines are equally effective in inoculating against the flu.