Q&A: Understanding the Flu Vaccine

The Mount Sinai Medical Center recently released a Q&A with Infection Control Officer David Pr. Calfee, M.D., concerning flu vaccination.

What is the seasonal flu shot?

The seasonal flu shot is given annually and protects against three common viruses, one influenza A (H3N2) virus, one regular seasonal influenza A (H1N1) virus--not the pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus--and one influenza B virus. It is usually administered by injection, typically in the upper arm. Seasonal flu shots do not protect against the pandemic H1N1 virus, commonly known as the "Swine Flu."

Why should I get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine significantly reduces your chance of infection. Each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with health conditions are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications.

  • Is the pandemic H1N1 virus really a threat this flu season? If so, is there a vaccine?
  • The CDC is predicting that pandemic H1N1 will be a serious threat during the 2009–2010 influenza season. An H1N1 vaccine has been recently developed and will be available this fall. The H1N1 vaccine will be used in addition, and not as a substitute, to the seasonal flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that pregnant women, caretakers of children younger than six months, health care and emergency medical services personnel, persons six months to 24 years of age, and those people between the ages of 25 and 64 who are at higher risk for H1N1 infection because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems, be given priority to receive the H1N1 vaccine. The H1N1 vaccine will be made available to others once sufficient amounts of the vaccine are available.

    Do these vaccines have side effects?

    Influenza vaccines are very safe. Mild side effects like soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, or muscle aches may occur.

    Is there anyone who should not receive the flu shot?

    You should not receive the flu shot if you have ever experienced a severe allergic reaction--known as anaphylaxis--to a previous influenza vaccine, eggs, or any other component of the flu shot, or if you have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of a prior influenza vaccine. If you have a fever or other moderate or severe acute illness, discuss with your doctor if you should postpone your flu shot until that illness resolves.

    Should health care workers receive the flu and H1N1 vaccines?

    Yes. Health care workers may be at increased risk of influenza infection. Infected health care workers can transmit the infection to others, including their family, friends, colleagues, and patients. Vaccination can reduce all of these risks.

    The New York State Department of Health has recently mandated that health care personnel in hospitals and many other health care settings receive the flu shot each year. This year, both the seasonal influenza and H1N1 influenza vaccines will be required.

    Download Center

    • Safety Metrics Guide

      Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

    • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

      This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

    • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

      Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

    • Lone Worker Safety Guide

      As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

    • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

      Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

    • Vector Solutions

    Featured Whitepaper

    OH&S Digital Edition

    • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2022

      June 2022

      Featuring:

      • SAFETY CULTURE
        Corporate Safety Culture Is Workplace Culture
      • HEAT STRESS
        Keeping Workers Safe from Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries
      • EMPLOYEE HEALTH SCREENING
        Should Employers Consider Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
      • PPE FOR WOMEN
        Addressing Physical Differences
      View This Issue