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Question: How does the flu spread?

Answer: Influenza viruses are spread from person to person. This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled (generally up to 3 feet) through the air. The viruses also can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else's mouth or nose) before washing their hands.

Question: Once I receive the vaccine, can I be around someone who is sick with the flu and not become ill?

Answer: No, you still must take precautions and encourage others who cough or sneeze to cover their mouth and nose with tissues or if tissues are unavailable to cough or sneeze into the sleeve of their shirt. Then encourage them to wash their hands. Hand sanitizers are useful, but use soap and water if available.

Question: How long will it take for this vaccine to take effect and give me protection?

Answer: Approximately 2 weeks.

Question: How effective is the flu shot?

Answer: When the "match" between vaccine and circulating influenza virus strains is close, the vaccine is approximately 70-90% effective. The vaccine only covers the three most prominent influenza virus strains and there are many different strains.

Question: Can I get the flu from getting a flu shot?

Answer: No. The viruses in the flu shot are dead (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.

Question: What kind of side effects could I get after receiving the vaccine?

Answer: Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. Approximately 15-20% of recipients develop mild soreness, redness or swelling at the vaccination site and/or a low-grade fever and aches. These symptoms should only last for 1-2 days. The risk of a flu shot causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, has the potential to cause serious problems, such as allergic reactions. This is a rare occurance.

Question: Will the vaccine protect me against "bird flu"?

Answer: No. The influenza vaccine administered every year in the fall targets the influenza strains that cause seasonal influenza. However, in the event of a pandemic (either from the bird flu or another type) a seasonal influenza immunization could help to keep individuals healthy; and in so doing, good health is the best prevention against other infections.

Question: Can I go back to work after receiving my flu shot?

Answer: Yes.

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