Why get vaccinated against influenza (flu)?

The best way to protect against influenza (flu) is to get a flu vaccine every flu season. Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. The first and most important step in protecting against flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. CDC recommends everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine. It is important to get your flu vaccine EVERY year, because

  • Flu viruses are constantly changing, so flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests will be most common during the upcoming flu season.
  • A person’s immune protection from the flu vaccine declines over time. Yearly vaccination is needed for the best protection.
Who should get a flu vaccine?

Everyone is at risk for seasonal influenza. CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine.

While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at high risk of serious flu complications:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • The full list of people who are at high risk of serious flu complications is at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm. 

It is also important that people who live with or care for those at high risk of serious flu complications get vaccinated, including:

  • Health care workers
  • Contacts of persons at high risk for serious flu complications, including children younger than 6 months of age who are too young to be vaccinated.

Some children 6 months through 8 years old will need two doses of flu vaccine to be protected. Ask your doctor how many doses your child needs. For a complete list, see “Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza” at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm.

Who should NOT get a flu vaccine?

Some people should talk to their doctor before getting a flu shot:

  • If you have any severe, life-threatening allergies. If you ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine, or have a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, you may be advised not to get vaccinated. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg protein.
  • If you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS). Some people with a history of GBS should not get this vaccine.
  • If you are not feeling well. It is usually okay to get flu vaccine when you have a mild illness, but you might be asked to come back when you feel better.
  • If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your doctor or health care provider.

For a complete list, see “Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza” at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm.

When & Where to get vaccinated?

You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. Fall is the time to get you annual flu vaccine. If possible, get your flu
vaccine by the end of October! Flu vaccines are offered in many doctors’ offices and clinics. Even if you do not have a regular doctor or other health care professional, you can get a flu vaccine in other locations, including health departments, pharmacies, urgent care clinics, health centers, travel
clinics. Vaccines may also be offered at your school, college health center, or workplace.

What kinds of flu vaccines are recommended?

There are several licensed and recommended flu vaccine options this season. Recommended vaccines for this season include flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines), as well as flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called
“quadrivalent” vaccines).

There is a high dose vaccine and a flu vaccine made with adjuvant. There is also a cell-based flu vaccine and a recombinant flu vaccine.

CDC does not recommend the use of the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent) this season.

Otherwise, there is no preference for any licensed and recommended flu vaccine over another.

What are the benefits of getting a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine can provide:

  • Protection for yourself. (Reduce your risk of getting sick or being hospitalized.)
  • Protection for children younger than 6 months who are too young to get vaccinated.
  • Protection for other people at high risk of serious complications from flu.
  • Protection for pregnant women and their newborns.
What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?

Flu shots have a good safety record and cannot give you the flu, but there may be some mild side effects.

The most common side effects from flu shots are soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot is given.

Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get vaccinated against the flu. A flu vaccine reduces your risk of illness and hospitalization and can prevent illness, hospitalization, or even death and can prevent you from spreading the virus to your loved ones. Protect
yourself and your family from flu: get vaccinated.

For more information about the seriousness of influenza and the benefits of influenza vaccination, talk to your doctor or nurse, visit www.cdc.gov/flu, or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Source: CDC