CDC does not recommend that influenza vaccination be considered as a way to avoid confusing influenza disease with suspected Anthrax illness. Influenza vaccine is the primary means to prevent influenza and its severe complications, including pneumonia, hospitalization and death. Complications most often occur among persons older than 65 years and among persons younger than 65 years who have certain medical conditions.
Many other infectious agents (including Anthrax) can cause illnesses that begin with flulike symptoms (fever, body aches and headaches). The flu shot can prevent 70-90 percent, but not all, influenza infections. The vaccine does not prevent flu-like illness caused by agents other than influenza.
Influenza vaccine should be targeted toward groups that are at increased risk of complications and toward health care workers. The CDC recommends that these groups be prioritized for vaccine available in October and that efforts to vaccinate these groups continue throughout the influenza season. Lower influenza vaccine coverage of high risk persons could lead to an increase in influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths. Receipt of influenza vaccine in November and later is encouraged for those who live with highrisk persons, for healthy people aged 50-64 years, and for others who wish to reduce their chances of getting influenza.