Flu Shot Can Prevent Possible, Serious Complications

Health Minute

Find Your Perfect Match

Answer a few questions and we'll provide you with a list of primary care providers that best fit your needs.

The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tens of millions of people in the United States get the flu each year. Most get better within a week or two, but thousands become sick enough to be hospitalized. About 36,000 people die each year from complications of the flu.

Anyone who wants to reduce their risk of the flu should get a flu vaccine. The flu shot is for people age six months and older.

Some people are more likely to get the flu or to have a severe infection if they catch it. People at risk for more serious flu infections should always get a flu vaccine every year.

It’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated, either because they are at high risk of serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than six months 

Older children and adults require only a single shot each year. However, children under age nine need two shots a year, one month apart, the first time they receive the flu vaccine, or if they have not previously received two doses during a flu season.

You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. You could get minor side effects such as:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Fever (low grade)
  • Aches

According to the CDC, some people should not be vaccinated without first talking to a doctor. In general, you should not get a flu shot if you:

  • Had a severe allergic reaction to chickens or egg protein
  • Have a fever or illness that is more than "just a cold"
  • Had a moderate to severe reaction after a previous flu vaccine
  • Developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks after receiving a flu vaccine

If you meet any of the above criteria, ask your doctor if a flu vaccine is safe for you.

When Should You Get a Flu Shot?

Yearly flu vaccinations should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available. You may get the shot anytime during  the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.

Find Your Perfect Match

Answer a few questions and we'll provide you with a list of primary care providers that best fit your needs.

Premier Health Logo