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Influenza Information and Prevention
The most effective way to prevent influenza is by getting the flu vaccine (flu shot) and using simple infection control measures such as hand washing. Antiviral medicines can also help prevent infection if you are exposed to the flu. People who get the flu vaccine have a lower chance of illness or death from influenza compared to people who are not vaccinated. If you get the flu after being vaccinated, your symptoms are likely to be milder and last for a shorter period of time compared to people who were not vaccinated.
The flu vaccine is available in three forms in the United States: as an injection into the muscle, as an injection into the skin, and as a nasal spray.
The injection of the flu vaccine into the muscle (regular flu shot) is approved for adults & children 6 mos and older.
Starting with the 2011 flu season, the flu vaccine can also be injected in the skin intradermal). The intradermal injection uses a smaller needle and less vaccine but works as well as the regular flu shot. It is approved for adults aged 18-64. The nasal spray is approved only for healthy children ages 2 years and older and healthy adults to 49 years. Pregnant women and people who have a weakened immune system or who have chronic medical problems should NOT get the nasal spray since it contains live virus.
The most common side effect of the flu shot is soreness at the injection site. People with a serious allergy to egg products should not receive the nasal spray because it is grown in eggs and its safety has not been studied in people with egg allergy. The flu vaccine that comes in a shot has been studied and shows to be safe even in people with egg allergy. The flu vaccine that comes in a shot has been studied and shows to be safe even in people with egg allergy, so most people with an egg allergy can get the shot . There is now also a flu shot that is made in eggs (Flucelvas). People with egg allergy can receive this vaccine, but if it is not available, the egg –based flu shot is safe for most people. Other possible side effects include body aches, headache, and low-grade fever (usually less than 100.4). These problems are usually mild and go away with in a day or two.
Who should be vaccinated?
The flu vaccine is recommended for nearly all people 6 mos of age and older. The vaccine is especially important for:
Adults age 50 or older People who live in nursing homes and other long-term facilities.
Adults & children who have chronic lung or heart conditions.
This includes children with chronic lung or heart conditions.
This includes children with asthma.
Adults & children with chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease
Adults& children with HIV infection, or who have received organ stem cell transplants
Children and teenagers age 6 mos to 18 years who are taking long-term aspirin therapy and might be at risk for Reye Syndrome.
Women who will be pregnant during the flu season
Adults & children who might transmit influenza to high-risk individuals (including people listed above. )
This includes health care workers in nursing homes, home health workers, and people who live with a high-risk individual.
Infection control measures, like hand washing covering your mouth when you cough, can help to
prevent the spread of influenza.
Frequent hand washing with soap and water can help limit the spread of influenza. You can use
alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available. Whether you are infected
with the flu or caring for someone with the flu, you should wash your hands frequently.
Cover your mouth & nose while coughing or sneezing, and throw away dirty tissues
immediately. Sneezing/coughing into the sleeve of your clothing (at the inner elbow) is another
means of containing sprays of saliva and secretions and will contaminate your hands
Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouyhsince germs spread this way.
Avoid close contact with sick people if you are sick with a flu-like illness, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Reference: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Prevention and control of influenza with
vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) United States,
2012-2013 influenza season