Flu Shot FAQs

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Should you get a flu shot?

Getting the flu can range from being uncomfortable to a potentially life-threatening condition. Getting an annual flu vaccine can help protect yourself from almost all of those types of complications. And it’s a much safer and effective option for many people.

You should also get the flu vaccine if you’re one of those people at a higher risk for secondary infections and flu-related complications, or if you’re in an age group that is more prone to getting the flu.

You should talk to your doctor or health care professional if you’re still not sure if getting the flu vaccine is safe for you, your child or anyone else in your family. Your doctor can better help you understand the benefits and risks, give you tips for avoiding the flu and other contagious illnesses, and recommend which type of flu vaccine would work best for you and your situation.

Do you need a flu shot?

According to the CDC, it’s recommended that annual influenza vaccinations are given to everyone age 6 months or older. Getting a flu shot is especially important certain groups with a higher risk of more severe influenza complications, such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • Young children

Also, kids between 6 months to 8 years may need two doses of the flu vaccine, to be given at least four weeks apart in order to be fully inoculated against influenza.

Why should you get the flu vaccine?

Influenza is a potentially deadly and serious disease. Despite advancements in medicine, getting the flu can lead to hospitalization, and sometimes even death. Every flu season brings new and different challenges, and an influenza infection affects people differently. Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the more serious symptoms of getting the flu, or getting the flu altogether. Getting a flu shot has many benefits, including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

How does the flu shot work?

Getting an annual flu vaccine is a safe and effective method to prevent the flu. The flu vaccine causes the body to develop antibodies to several strains of the influenza virus, which in turn help protect against infection.

There are many strains of the influenza virus, and they constantly change from year to year. Getting a seasonal flu shot every year helps keep up with the three strains of the virus that research suggests will be most common in the upcoming flu season.

It’s important to remember that you can get a flu shot at any point in the year, but flu season occurs in the fall and winter, with infections reaching their peak between November and March. That’s why it’s recommended to get the flu vaccine in the early fall, before flu season really gets underway.

The flu vaccine can be given as a shot, injection or nasal mist.

People who can get the flu shot:

Different types of flu shots are meant for people of different ages. You should make sure to get the flue vaccine that is appropriate for your age and situation.

  • There are inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV) approved for children as young as 6 months.
  • For adults, the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) is approved for those 18 years and older, and the adjuvanted, high-dose inactivated vaccines are approved for those 65 years of age and older.
  • Pregnant women and people with certain chronic health conditions can get a flu shot.
  • Most people with an egg allergy can get a flu shot.

People who should NOT get the flu shot:

  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to get vaccinated.
  • Those with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This includes gelatin, antibiotics and others. Ask your doctor if an allergy you have could preclude you from getting a flu shot.

Can the vaccine give me the flu?

The short answer is no.

The flu vaccine can’t give you influenza, however you could develop flu-like symptoms, even after getting a flu shot, for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Reaction to the vaccine: Muscle aches and a fever that lasts for a day or two are not uncommon after getting the flu shot. This is a side effect of the body producing protective antibodies.
  • The two-week window: It takes roughly two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect. Be aware that if you’re exposed to the virus shortly before or during that time, you could catch the flu.
  • Mismatched flu viruses: In some years, the actual influenza viruses used in the vaccine don’t match the viruses that occur during flu season. If this happens, getting a flu shot will still offer protection but might be less effective.
  • Other illnesses: Some other illnesses, like the common cold, can produce flu-like symptoms, meaning you may think you have the flu when you actually don’t.

Learn more about the flu, flu side effects and the types of flu vaccinations we provide.