Flu season happens every year, it starts in the fall and continues into the spring. Make sure you are protecting yourself and others from the flu by practicing good health habits and getting your annual vaccination.
The best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing. Each year, scientists work together to identify the virus strains that they believe will cause the most illness, and a new vaccine is made based on their recommendations.
- It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months receive the yearly influenza vaccine.
- Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Discuss this with your child's healthcare provider.
- Children younger than 6 months of age are at higher risk of serious flu complications but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you and others in your family should get a vaccine to help protect them from the flu.
- The best time to get the flu vaccine is soon after it becomes available in the fall of each year.
There are two vaccine options available in the United States:
The Flu Shot
The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, which means that someone receiving the vaccine cannot get influenza from the flu shot. The exposure to the inactivated influenza virus helps our bodies develop protection by producing antibodies. The amount of antibodies in the body is greatest one to two months after vaccination and then gradually decline. After receiving the flu shot it usually takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity to influenza. Important things to know about the flu shot:
- The flu shot is safe for people with asthma.
- The flu shot is covered by Medicare and other health insurance.
- Most people experience little or no reaction to the flu shot. The most common side effect is a swollen, red, tender area where the vaccination is given.
FluMist is a nasal spray approved to protect people from getting the flu. The nasal spray is made from live but weakened virus strains. FluMist is only approved by the FDA for healthy people ages 2-49. It has not been proven safe for high risk populations. High-risk groups, such as people with asthma and COPD, should receive a flu shot.
Find a Flu Vaccine
To find a flu vaccine near you, simply enter your zip code to find mapped locations, dates, times, addresses and phone numbers for clinics offering flu and other adult vaccinations near you.
Myths and Facts
Fever, cough, chills, sore throat, headache… is it the flu? Each year, influenza, or flu, sends thousands of Americans to the hospital. This contagious respiratory infection affects the entire body and is usually spread when a person coughs or sneezes. The single most effective thing you can do to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated every year. There are misconceptions about the flu shot that cause people to skip this important preventative measure. Here's the fact and fiction about the flu vaccine.
Myth: Influenza is kind of like the common cold … it's not a big deal.
Fact: Influenza, commonly called the "flu," is a severe respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications or even death.
Myth: The flu shot can give me influenza.
Fact: It is impossible for the flu shot to give you influenza because it does not contain the live virus. Some people might experience mild soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, and rarely a headache or low-grade fever.
Myth: I am healthy and never get the flu, so I don't need to get the flu shot.
Fact: Even healthy people can get influenza and it can be serious. Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated each year as the circulating strains of the virus change each year.
Myth: The flu shot does not keep people from getting influenza.
Fact: The flu shot doesn't guarantee you won't get influenza, but it significantly reduces your risk. There are multiple types of flu viruses circulating and they change from year to year. The flu shot protects you from several of the most common types of influenza, and is very effective.
Source: American Lung Association