General information about flu

Here are some highlights for what you need to know this flu season to stay healthy.

Table of Contents

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Why should I get the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine offers the best protection against flu-related illness, hospitalization, and death. During the 2016–2017 season, vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.  When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.

Should I get my child vaccinated?

Yes, a flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting the flu and spreading it to others. Children younger than 5 years of age — especially those younger than 2 years old — are at high risk of serious flu-related complications.

Flu vaccination was also found to reduce deaths in children. A study in Pediatrics was the first of its kind to show that influenza vaccination is effective in preventing influenza-associated deaths among children.

As of August 24, 2019, a total of 129 pediatric deaths had been reported to CDC during the 2019-2020 season.

I still got the flu after the flu vaccine. Why should I get the flu vaccine this year?

Although the flu vaccine won’t prevent every case of the flu, getting an annual vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of serious illness. Getting the flu vaccine may make illness milder. A 2017 study in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) showed that influenza vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized influenza patients.

A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. If you get flu-like symptoms after receiving the flu vaccine, there may be a few reasons why you have a low grade fever, and headache, but those may be mild side-effects of the vaccine. If you get diagnosed with the flu shortly after receiving the flu vaccine, you may have been exposed to the flu virus beforehand, as it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to work.

I heard that the flu vaccine was not very effective. Why should I get it if it’s not effective?

While vaccine effectiveness can vary, studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. Remember, if you don’t get a vaccine at all, that’s 0% effective.

What flu vaccine should I get?

Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months of age and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older. Flu shots also are recommended for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 years through 49 years of age. People with some medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine. Your provider will know which flu vaccine is best for you to receive.

Resources

Remember, protect yourself, your loved ones, as well as all those around you by getting a flu vaccine! Ask your healthcare provider what flu vaccine is best for you and your family.

Find out where you can get a flu vaccine by asking your primary care provider, going to a local pharmacy, or visiting vaccinefinder.org.

To learn more about the flu, visit flu information for general public website or www.cdc.gov/flu.

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