Virtual Mentor. November 2003, Volume 5, Number 11.
Flu Vaccine Recommendations and Dosages
The influenza vaccine is recommended for many population groups and can help prevent serious complications.
Audiey Kao, MD, PhD
About 10 to 20 percent of US residents contract the influenza virus each year, resulting in an average of 114,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually . The influenza virus causes flu, a serious respiratory disease that may present with symptoms similar to those of the common cold but is caused by a different virus. Common flu symptoms are:
The flu is most common during the winter months; for North America the flu season is from November to March. Although anyone may get the flu, some people are more vulnerable to serious complications from contracting the virus. It is recommended that people at high risk for flu-related complications get an influenza vaccine each year in October or November .
Flu shots are recommended for all patients who :
Patients should not get the flu vaccine if they have had serious reactions (eg, anaphyalxis) to eggs or to a previous influenza vaccine or to one of its components. Healthy, nonpregnant people who are between 5 and 49 years old may receive the live attenuate influenza vaccine (LAIV). Persons with chronic diseases (eg, asthma, heart and renal disease, diabetes) that may put them at high risk when exposed to the wild virus should not be offered LAIV. People who are in close contact with immunosuppressed people should be given the inactivated influenza virus (IIV).
Vaccine Dosing and Administration 
Side Effects 
The vaccine is not always a perfect match for the virus circulating that season, but those who are vaccinated and contract the virus will likely experience milder symptoms. Physicians should remind patients that the best way to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu is by getting vaccinated.
The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.
© 2003 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.