Influenza vaccination – 7 things to know
- 1) Who needs the influenza vaccine?
- 2) Is influenza really that serious?
- 3) How effective is the influenza vaccine?
- 4) Can people catch influenza from being vaccinated?
- 5) Why do people need to be vaccinated every winter?
- 6) At what point in the year is it too late to be vaccinated?
- 7) Is the influenza vaccine safe?
1) Who needs the influenza vaccine?
Anyone can catch influenza, but certain groups have a higher risk of developing severe disease. WHO recommends vaccinating older individuals, young children, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions. These are the groups most likely to suffer serious complications from influenza, which is why most countries prioritize them for vaccination. Health-care workers need to be vaccinated for their own protection and to reduce their risk of infecting vulnerable patients with the virus.
2) Is influenza really that serious?
Influenza can cause severe disease and death, especially in older people, young children, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Every year, up to 60 000 people over the age of 65 die from influenza. As influenza vaccination coverage remains low in many countries, deaths can unfortunately be expected every winter season in these at-risk groups.
3) How effective is the influenza vaccine?
The influenza vaccine is the best tool we have for preventing influenza and reducing the risk of serious complications and even death. The effectiveness of the vaccine can vary from year to year, depending on the types of influenza viruses circulating and how well these match the vaccine. It also depends on the health status and age of the person vaccinated, as well as time since vaccination. On average, the vaccine prevents around 60% of infections in healthy adults aged 18–64 years. Influenza vaccines become effective about 14 days after vaccination.
4) Can people catch influenza from being vaccinated?
It is impossible to get influenza from the injected vaccine because it does not contain live viruses.
5) Why do people need to be vaccinated every winter?
Influenza viruses constantly change and different strains can circulate each year. In addition, immunity decreases over time. Seasonal influenza vaccines are updated each year to provide the highest possible protection by matching the circulating viruses.
6) At what point in the year is it too late to be vaccinated?
It is best to get vaccinated before the influenza season starts. Influenza vaccination campaigns usually take place in October and November, before influenza begins circulating. It is never too late to be vaccinated if influenza is still circulating; vaccination increases the chances of being protected from infection and reduces severe consequences from the disease.
7) Is the influenza vaccine safe?
Seasonal influenza vaccines have been in use for more than 50 years. They have been administered to millions of people and have a good safety record. Every year, national medicines regulatory authorities carefully examine each influenza vaccine before it is licensed. Systems are in place to monitor and investigate any reports of adverse events following influenza immunization.