The influenza vaccination is an annual vaccination using a vaccine specific for a given year to protect against the highly variable influenza virus. Each seasonal influenza vaccine contains antigens representing three (trivalent vaccine) or four (quadrivalent vaccine) influenza virus strains: one influenza type A subtype H1N1 virus strain, one influenza type A subtype H3N2 virus strain, and either one or two influenza type B virus strains. Influenza vaccines may be administered as an injection, also known as a flu shot, or as a nasal spray.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone over the ages of 6 months should receive the seasonal influenza vaccine. Vaccination campaigns usually focus on people who are at high risk of serious complications if they catch the flu, such as the elderly and people living with chronic illness or those with weakened immune systems, as well as health care workers.
Flu season is an annually-recurring time period characterized by the prevalence of outbreaks of influenza (flu). The season occurs during the cold half of the year in each hemisphere. Influenza activity can sometimes be predicted and even tracked geographically. While the beginning of major flu activity in each season varies by location, in any specific location these minor epidemics usually take about 3 weeks to peak and another 3 weeks to significantly diminish.
The 2013 flu season has been particularly harsh in the United States, where the majority of states were reporting high rates of influenza-like illness. The Centers for Disease Control reported that the available flu vaccine was 60% effective. It further recommended that all persons over age 6 months get the vaccine.
Swine influenza, also called pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu, is an infection caused by any one of several types of swine influenza viruses. Swine influenza virus (SIV) or swine-origin influenza virus (S-OIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1, H1N2, H2N1, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3.
Swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations worldwide. Transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human flu, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human flu, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People with regular exposure to pigs are at increased risk of swine flu infection.