Protect Yourself and Your Family
Your best defense against influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated. Hundreds of millions of people have gotten the flu vaccine safely across the country for decades. It is a reliable way to keep you and your family from getting sick.
What is the Flu?
The flu is a virus that targets the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause:
- Sore throat
- Muscle ache
- Extreme fatigue
- Vomiting (in children)
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The flu can also expose you to secondary infections such as pneumonia by weakening your immune system. These secondary infections make the flu potentially life-threatening to older adults, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women. In an average year, the flu leads to thousands of deaths nationwide and many more hospitalizations.
Why Get Vaccinated?
You can significantly lower your chance of getting the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older should get vaccinated every year. The virus mutates, or changes, regularly, so protect yourself with the latest vaccine.
Flu Vaccine FAQ
What is the flu vaccine?
Vaccines don’t contain a form of the flu that can get you sick. Experts make vaccines using a dead or inactive strain of the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention carefully studies each new vaccine to guarantee its safety.
Most vaccines are injected directly into an arm muscle. A nasal spray option is available during some flu seasons. People over 65 years old should talk to their doctor about their vaccine options.
What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?
There are some side effects of a vaccine. They include:
- Low-grade fever
- Mild flu-like symptoms, although it is impossible to get the flu from a vaccine
- Soreness localized to the area you received a shot
What are the benefits of getting a flu vaccine?
In the United States, 5% to 20% of people get the flu every year. By getting the vaccine, you’ll protect yourself and others from the influenza virus. The misery of having the flu lasts for days and some symptoms last weeks. The flu also weakens your immune system, leading to secondary infections that can be fatal. Avoid sickness and hospitalization and get the updated vaccine every year.
When should I get the flu shot?
Flu season is from November to April with most people getting sick from late December to early March. Stay protected and get the vaccine as early as it is available, usually in September.
Should my child get the flu shot?
Yes. The CDC’s recommendations for children are the same as its recommendations for adults. Children 6 months and older should get vaccinated once every year in the fall.
Don’t skip your child’s flu vaccine. Children are more likely to require hospitalization because of the flu and some children die every year due to influenza complications. The vaccine protects your child from the misery of the flu as well as a costly hospital stay or worse. Take precautions and get your child vaccinated.
What if I’m allergic to eggs?
Most flu shots have egg proteins in them. However, people who are allergic to eggs can still get the vaccine and be protected. There are also some vaccines available that don’t contain any egg proteins. Talk to your doctor to see if it’s safe for you to get the regular shot or an alternative option.
Can pregnant women get a flu shot?
It is safe for pregnant women to get a flu shot. In fact, it is strongly recommended for both the health of the mother and the baby. Pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill from the flu and may need hospitalization. Getting vaccinated also protects your baby from the flu even after birth.
What are some common flu shot myths?
Common flu shot myths include:
- The flu shot can give you the flu. It is impossible to get the flu from the vaccine since it uses a dead and inactive strain of influenza. You could experience mild flu-like symptoms, but you won't get the actual virus.
- The flu isn’t a serious illness. Thousands of people die every year in the United States of complications from the flu. While the flu itself doesn’t kill people, it lowers your ability to fight other infections and can lead to death by secondary infections.
- You can have severe reactions to the vaccine. It is very rare to get serious reactions, and these reactions often happen within minutes or hours of getting the vaccine. Soreness and redness are the most common side effects.
- Healthy people don’t need shots. It is important to protect yourself and others with the vaccine. You can still get the flu even if you don’t have a chronic condition.