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Flu Glossary


The component of the flu vaccine that prompts your body’s immune response.


Help identify and remove foreign viruses and bacteria from the body.

Close contact

Being within six feet of a person infected with the influenza virus

Direct contact

Touching, holding or handling a person infected with the influenza virus

Inactive flu virus

Refers to vaccine that contains inactivated or “dead” virus. Inactive virus vaccines cannot cause infection in a vaccinated person.


A contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses; also known as influenza

Flu season

The time period during which the influenza A and B viruses are spread among a certain population. In the United States, this typically occurs during spring, fall and winter.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

A rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people recover fully from GBS, but some people have long-term nerve damage.

High-risk individuals

Refers to those who are especially susceptible, at greatest risk for complications, and can easily become infected with the flu (i.e. children under five years old, pregnant women and adults over 50 years old)


Related to the act of inhaling or exhaling air; breathing

Quadrivalent flu vaccine

Vaccine that treats four types of flu viruses (two influenza A and two influenza B viruses)

Seasonal flu

Refers to the influenza A and B viruses that are typically spread among people during flu season.

Trivalent flu vaccine

Vaccine that treats three types of flu viruses (influenza A viruses H1N1 and H3N2 and influenza B); also used as the conventional flu vaccine.

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