Flu Vaccine

There are still some myths about the flu vaccine, and people often have concerns and questions. We've got answers to those common questions, and hope these facts help you to make an informed choice about getting the flu shot.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce your risk of getting the flu. And when more people get vaccinated against the flu, the less it will spread throughout the community, to your family and to your loved ones.

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What is the flu?

Influenza ("flu") can be serious and sometimes deadly. The flu is a disease that spreads every year, usually between August and May. Flu is caused by viruses, which spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact. 

Anyone can get the flu. The flu can happen quickly and can last many days. The flu can cause fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose and make you tired.

How common is the flu?

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are over 35 million cases of flu.

Who should get the flu shot?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot every year. The flu shot is especially helpful for kids younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions.

Why do I need a flu shot each year?

Each flu season is different so there is a new flu shot each year (around the fall season) that helps protect you and others against the flu.

When should I get the flu shot?

The best time to get the flu shot is before the flu season begins, usually in August. You can also get your flu shot later in the season.

Where can I get my flu shot?

You can get your flu shot at your local pharmacy or your doctor's office.

How much does the flu shot cost?

There is no co-pay for the flu shot if you get your flu shot at your local pharmacy. If you get your shot at your doctor’s office, you may have a co-pay for the office visit.

How well does the flu shot work?

The flu shot works well, but cannot prevent all cases. If the shot is a good match to the viruses going around, it may prevent you from getting the flu.

If you do get the flu, symptoms should be milder and should not last as long.

How safe is the flu shot? Can I get flu from flu shot?

Millions of Americans have safely received the flu shot over the last 50 years and there are many studies showing that the flu shot is safe.

The flu shot cannot cause flu because the viruses in the shot are either not alive or are changed so they cannot give you the flu.

What are possible side effects of the flu shot?

Side effects are not common, but the shot can cause soreness, redness, and/or swelling. It can also cause headache, fever, muscle ache, nausea, or fainting.

Who should not get the flu shot?

Children younger than 6 months and people who have severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu shot or any ingredient in the shot should not get the flu shot. People who have had Guillain-Barre syndrome should also not get the flu shot.

If you are not feeling well, it is recommended to wait until you are better before getting the flu shot. People with egg allergies are still recommended to get the flu shot, but talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your allergy.

How can I learn more?
Information

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a patient information sheet. You should talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

You can also read more about the flu shot from the CDC.