The flu shot is a seasonal vaccine that protects against the 4 influenza viruses that will be most common during the upcoming flu season. In the United States, flu season can begin as early as October and as late as May. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu by reducing the chances that you will get it and spread it to others.
How does it work?
The vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, and these antibodies protect against the flu.
Can I get the flu from the flu shot?
You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. This is a common misconception. Nonetheless, a vaccine, like any medicine, may cause serious problems, such as allergic reactions, on rare occasions. Almost all people who get the flu vaccine do not have any major problems as a result. However, there is a possibility that you could experience minor side effects such as a low-grade fever, body aches, or soreness at the site of the shot. If experienced at all, these side effects are usually mild and last only 1-2 days.
When should I get it?
You should get your flu shot before the flu begins to spread. It takes around two weeks for the flu vaccine to provide full protection, so the sooner you get the shot, the more likely that you will be fully protected once flu season starts.
You must get a flu vaccine yearly to protect yourself most effectively against the viruses. This is because flu viruses are constantly changing, and flu vaccines are updated each season to protect against the viruses research suggests are likely to be most common that particular season. Furthermore, annual vaccination is recommended because a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time.
Who should get it?
The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get the annual flu vaccine. Older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease are at especially high risk from the flu. It is especially important for them to get vaccinated. Click here to learn more about preventing the flu this season.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Influenza (Flu),” https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
Mayo Clinic, “Flu shot: Your best bet for avoiding influenza,” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000