Protect Yourself and Your Family
Your best defense against influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated. Across the country, hundreds of millions of people have gotten the flu vaccine safely for decades.
It’s an effective way to keep you, your family and your community from getting sick.
Get your flu vaccination:
Why Get Vaccinated?
In the U.S., 5% to 20% of people get the flu every year. The misery of having the flu lasts for days and some symptoms can last for weeks. The flu also weakens your immune system, leading to secondary infections that can be fatal.
The vaccine protects you from severe flu complications – including hospitalization and death. It can also reduce the severity of your symptoms and shorten the length of your illness.
You can’t spread something you don’t have, so you’re also protecting your family and community from infection.
Flu Vaccine Myths
The flu vaccine can give you the flu. It’s impossible to get the flu from the vaccine since it uses a dead or inactive strain of influenza. You may experience mild flu-like side effects, but you won't get the actual virus.
The flu isn’t a serious illness. Thousands of Americans die every year from complications of the flu. While the flu itself doesn’t kill people, it lowers your ability to fight other potentially fatal infections.
You can have severe reactions to the vaccine. It’s very rare to have a serious reaction. These reactions often happen within minutes or hours of getting the vaccine, so if you do have a reaction, you’ll likely be near medical experts who can treat you.
Healthy people don’t need vaccines. Just as you still wear your seatbelt even if you’ve never been in a car accident, you should still get vaccinated.
Influenza is the same as the stomach flu. The influenza virus is a respiratory illness that causes fever, chills, cough and fatigue, which are different from stomach flu symptoms, also known as gastroenteritis.
COVID-19 and the Flu
This year, it’s especially important to get your flu vaccination. Sanford Health and other health systems will be handling two circulating viruses this fall: influenza and COVID-19. Stop the spread of these diseases by getting vaccinated.
Do you have a cold, the flu or COVID-19? Compare the symptoms.
Flu Vaccine FAQ
What is the flu vaccine?
Vaccines use an inactive or weakened strain of the flu virus. Introducing this strain will teach your immune system to create antibodies that can target a live flu infection if you’re exposed later.
Vaccines don’t contain a form of the flu that can make you sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carefully studies each new vaccine to guarantee its safety.
What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?
Side effects can include:
- Low-grade fever
- Mild flu-like symptoms
- Soreness localized to the area you received a shot
Who should get the flu vaccine?
According to the CDC, everyone age 6 months and older should get vaccinated every fall.
These groups should prioritize getting vaccinated because they’re at an increased risk of serious flu complications:
- Children. The flu can be life-threatening to children.
- Pregnant women. Getting the vaccine protects pregnant women from serious flu complications and passes on antibodies to their babies. Learn more.
- People 65 and older. Most flu hospitalizations and deaths occur in patients age 65 and older. Learn more.
When should I get the flu vaccine?
Flu season occurs annually from November to April with most doctor visits and hospitalizations occurring from late December to early March. Stay protected and get the vaccine as early as it is available, usually in September or October.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines prevent millions of flu illnesses and doctor visits every year. They reduce the risk of illness by around 40% to 60% when the vaccines are well-matched to the circulating viruses.
No vaccine works 100%, but the vaccine will likely reduce the severity and length of your illness.
Vaccines have also been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death among vulnerable populations.
Get Your Flu Vaccine FAQ
What types of flu vaccines are available?
Different types include:
- Flu shots delivered with a needle
- Nasal spray flu vaccines
- High-dose flu vaccines, which contain four times the amount of antigen and are specifically for people age 65 and older
How much does a flu vaccination cost?
Flu vaccinations are typically covered by insurance. They are usually offered at no cost to patients.
How should I prepare for my flu vaccination?
Face masks are still required in health care settings. Please make sure you bring and properly wear a face mask to your flu vaccination appointment.
Flu shots are given in the upper arm muscle for young children and adults. Make sure your outfit is short-sleeved or has sleeves that are easy to roll up.
Infants and toddlers receive their flu shot in the upper thigh muscle. Consider dressing infants and toddlers in an outfit where the thigh is easily accessible.
Flu and COVID-19 FAQ
What is the flu?
The flu is a virus that targets the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Extreme fatigue
- Vomiting (in children)
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
The flu can also weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to other infections. These secondary infections make the flu potentially life-threatening to young children, 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.
Will the flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19. Get a COVID-19 vaccination to protect yourself against that illness.
Can I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
Yes. You can receive the COVID-19 vaccine and your annual flu shot at the same appointment.