During flu season, which can begin in the U.S. as early as October and last as late as May, flu viruses circulate at higher levels. Getting an annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. Here is flu shot information, as well as key facts from the CDC.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a leading authority when it comes to national flu shot information, all people 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year, with rare exception. The more people who are vaccinated against the flu, the less flu can spread through that community. The following additional facts about the flu and influenza vaccination prevention are taken from the CDC website. Knowing basic important flu shot information can help you protect yourself and your family from being sick all season.
Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?
Influenza (flu) is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized, and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
How do flu vaccines work?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. It is not common to get sick after the flu shot because the flu vaccine uses an inactivated flu virus or no virus at all.
Can I experience side effects from the flu vaccine?
Yes, there can be side effects. These are generally mild and short-lasting (on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions). Side effects can differ between getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. Minor side effects that may occur with the flu shot (the nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for the 2017-2018 season) include:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
Who should get vaccinated this season?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza, such as adults age 65 or older, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and those with certain medical conditions. If you have specific questions about your personal risk for the flu, talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional.
When should I get vaccinated?
You should get flu shot information and get a flu vaccine now, if you haven’t gotten one already this season. Although flu shot information from the CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October if possible, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools. The CDC’s Vaccine Locator is a useful tool for finding vaccine in your area.
Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and sometimes updated to keep up with changing flu viruses.
Does flu vaccine work right away?
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets underway.
Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?
Yes, there is still a possibility you could get the flu even if you got vaccinated. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on various factors, including the age and health status of the person being vaccinated, and also the similarity or “match” between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those circulating in the community. If the viruses in the vaccine and the influenza viruses circulating in the community are closely matched, vaccine effectiveness is higher. If they are not closely matched, vaccine effectiveness can be reduced. However, it’s important to remember that even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications. Such protection is possible because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can provide some protection (called cross-protection) against different but related influenza viruses. For more information about vaccine effectiveness, visit How Well Does the Seasonal Flu Vaccine Work? For information specific to this season, visit About the Current Flu Season.
What are the benefits of flu vaccination?
There are many reasons to get a flu vaccine each year.
- Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, especially among children and older adults.
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac (heart) events among people with heart disease, especially among those who experienced a cardiac event in the past year.
- Flu vaccination also has been associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79%) and chronic lung disease (52%).
- Vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated can also protect a baby after birth from flu (mom passes on antibodies to the developing baby during her pregnancy.)
- A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
- Flu vaccination may make your illness milder if you do get sick. (For example a 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.)
- Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
Are there special considerations for those with egg allergies?
The flu shot information and recommendations for vaccination of people with egg allergies have not changed since last season (2016-2017). People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine and no longer have to be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. People who have severe egg allergies should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a healthcare provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
Care coordination services from CareSync can help you stay on top of important preventive healthcare screenings as well as timely immunizations. Learn more about between-visit care coordination from CareSync and share this link with your doctor.
To learn more about CareSync and its support for individuals, family members, and caregivers, please visit our website.