Flu Season is Around the Corner
Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu. Get vaccinated by October to protect yourself and your loved ones!
Shorter days and cooler evenings mean it's fall – and often the time that we start seeing people sick with flu. By getting a flu vaccine for yourself and your entire family every season, you can help prevent flu-related illness, missed school, and missed work.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of serious flu-related complications. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. Even healthy people can become sick with the flu and experience serious complications. But even if you are one of the lucky ones who bounce back quickly from a bout with the flu, people around you might not be so lucky. Getting a flu vaccineis the single best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.
Everyone Needs a Flu Vaccine – Every Flu Season
Flu viruses are constantly changing, and different flu viruses circulate and cause illness each season. Flu vaccines are made each year to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.
While everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine this season with rare exception, it's especially important for some people to get vaccinated.
Those people include the following:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older.
- A complete list is available at People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications.
- People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications (see list above).
- Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Household contacts and caregivers of infants younger than 6 months old.
- Health care personnel.
For a complete list of all people recommended for flu vaccination, as well as those who are not recommended for flu vaccination, visit Who Should Get Vaccinated.
Get a Flu Vaccine Every Flu Season
You should get vaccinated every year for two reasons.
- Flu viruses are constantly changing. The flu vaccine is often updated from one season to the next to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
- A person's immune protection from vaccination declines over time so annual vaccination is needed for optimal protection. Annual vaccination is recommended even for those who received the vaccine during the previous flu season.
A Reminder for Parents
Many younger children getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of flu vaccine this season to be fully protected. Your child's doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses of flu vaccine.
Flu vaccines are made to protect against three or four different flu viruses (called "trivalent" or "quadrivalent" vaccines)..
Trivalent flu vaccines protect against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus. The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:
- Standard dose trivalent shots that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. These are approved for people ages 6 months and older.
- A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
- A standard dose trivalent shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 18 and older.
- A standard dose trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 through 49 years of age.
The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:
- A standard dose quadrivalent flu shot.
- A standard dose quadrivalent nasal spray, approved for people 2 through 49 years of age (recommended preferentially for healthy* children 2 to 8 years old when immediately available and there are no contraindications or precautions). For more information about the new CDC recommendation, see Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine in Children 2 through 8 Years Old or the 2014-2015 MMWR Influenza Vaccine Recommendations.
The flu vaccine is safe. People have been receiving flu vaccines for more than 50 years. Vaccine safety is closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been given safely to people across the country for decades.
A common misconception is that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. It cannot. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given, maybe a low fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or cough. These side effects are NOT the flu. If you do experience them at all, these side effects are usually mild and short-lived.
Where to Get Vaccinated
Flu vaccine should be available widely, and in many convenient locations. See your doctor or other health care professional to get the flu vaccine, or seek out other locations where vaccine is being offered, such as pharmacies, health departments, grocery stores and many other places. Use the HealthMap Vacccine Finder to find flu vaccine in your area.