Influenza and Flu Shots

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 is a reliable way to keep you and your family from getting sick.

This year, it’s especially important to get your flu shot. Sanford Health and other health systems will be handling two circulating viruses this fall, influenza and COVID-19. By getting vaccinated against the flu, you’re protecting yourself and your community from that illness and freeing up medical resources to care for COVID-19 patients.

Learn how we’re preparing for the flu season.

What is the Flu?

The flu is a virus that targets the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • 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.

Learn more about the flu.

Compare the symptoms of a cold, the flu and COVID-19.

Why Get Vaccinated?

You can significantly lower your chance of getting the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older get vaccinated every year. The virus mutates, or changes, regularly. Make sure you’re protected with the latest vaccine.

During an average year, around 55% of our patients choose to get their flu shot. Dr. Allison Suttle, chief medical officer at Sanford Health, is challenging our communities to reach a 70% vaccination rate this year.

Where Can I Get Vaccinated?

Call your local clinic to schedule your flu shot appointment. Sanford Health also offers flu shot events throughout the season. Schedule your vaccination during one of these events or find an event near you that offers walk-in vaccinations.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re taking precautions to keep you safe while seeking care. Learn more about our health and safety measures.


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Flu Newsletter

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Flu vs. COVID-19

Flu symptoms begin 1-4 days after exposure. The cause of the flu comes from many different influenza virus strains. Prevention for the flu includes: annual flu shot, hand washing, covering your cough, staying home when sick.Both COVID-19 and the flu are transmitted by respiratory droplets from an infected person. They both cause fever or chills, cough, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea.COVID-19 symptoms begin 1-14 days after exposure, typically around 5 days. The cause of COVID-19 is from SARS-CoV-2 virus. Prevention for COVID-19 includes: self-isolation, social distancing, wearing a mask, hand washing, covering your cough, and staying home when sick.

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:

  • Aches
  • 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

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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 for weeks. The flu also weakens your immune system, leading to secondary infections that can be fatal. Avoid sickness and hospitalization by getting 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 or October.

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 need hospitalization because of flu complications and the flu can be deadly in children. The vaccine protects your child from the misery of the flu as well as a costly hospital stay and worse complications. 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. 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 and their babies are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu. If you’re a mom-to-be, you’re strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Getting the shot also passes on flu antibodies, meaning you’re passing on protection from the flu to your baby. This protection will last even after birth.

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Why is it important for seniors to get the flu shot?

People who are 65 and older are at a higher risk for experiencing complications related to the flu. Getting vaccinated reduces the likelihood of getting the flu and reduces the severity of symptoms for those who do get sick.

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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 potentially fatal 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. Just as you still wear your seatbelt even if you’ve never been in a car accident, you should still get vaccinated.

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Is it safe to get a flu shot during the pandemic?

If you’re concerned about your health, you should prioritize getting a flu vaccine this season. Getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family. Sanford Health is taking precautions at all our locations with your safety in mind. Call your local clinic to learn more about their safety measures and schedule an appointment.