According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (“the flu”) is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.
Millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Flu vaccinations are an important step in helping you stay well.
- People should talk to their healthcare provider before getting the flu shot each year.
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year. Vaccination to prevent flu is particularly important for adults 65 and older; people with heart disease or asthma; young children; and those with chronic health conditions and compromised immune systems.
Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?
- An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu.
Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?
- The flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. The viruses are weakened and work by jump-starting antibodies in your own body to create protection. There may be some mild, short-lasting side effects, including soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site; low-grade fever; and aches.
How do flu vaccines work?
- Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, and these antibodies provide protection against infection. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
When should a flu vaccine be given?
- A flu vaccine should be received before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.
Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
- A flu vaccine is needed every season because the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, and also because flu viruses are constantly changing.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
- Children younger than 6 months old.
- People with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine.
Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?
- Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus that a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.
And remember, getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
For more information, please refer to the CDC website on flu vaccinations or CDC.gov.