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Why Should I Plan to Get a Flu Shot?

Does your flu plan involve sanitizing everything around you or staying in bed for a week? We think a better idea is to get a flu shot. The flu is a potentially serious illness that affects millions of people in the United States each year.1 It’s very contagious and is easily spread from person to person.2 Getting a flu shot is a great way to help protect yourself from getting the flu. It also helps prevent the spread of flu in the community. Do your part to help protect yourself and those around you by planning to get a flu shot this season.3

The Importance of Vaccination

Even if you are healthy, you’re still at risk of getting the flu.4 That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as a flu shot becomes available.3 A flu shot is especially important for people at higher risk due to certain health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or chronic lung disease.5 Other people particularly vulnerable to the flu are seniors aged 65 years or older, children younger than 5 years, and pregnant women.5 Getting a flu shot can help reduce the risk of a person being hospitalized or even dying from the flu.6

  • The flu affects millions
    of people every year.1
  • Get your flu shot early,
    ideally by October.3

Want to Know More?

Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It infects the nose, throat, and lungs; and it is spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. The illness can range in severity from mild to severe and, at times, can even cause death.3
Actually, influenza can be quite a serious disease. The virus is unpredictable and can change from season to season. Other variables include the quantity of vaccine available and the level of match between the vaccines to the circulating virus. Furthermore, some people such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with certain health conditions (eg, asthma, diabetes, heart disease) are at greater risk for developing complications if they get the flu.3 Influenza causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations from flu-related complications each year and can lead to death in some cases.4,7
You can get the flu vaccine in the form of a shot or as a nasal spray, but neither can make you sick with the flu. This is because the viruses in the flu shot are either inactivated, therefore not infectious, or there are no viruses at all (this is called a recombinant vaccine). The viruses in the nasal spray are weakened so that they cannot cause illness. The most common side effects of the shot are soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling at the injection site. A low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches can also occur. Side effects of the nasal spray are mild and include runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough.8
No, it’s not too late. Influenza is unpredictable and the length of the season can vary; it typically peaks in January or February most years and can last until May. As long as the influenza virus is still circulating, it is beneficial to get vaccinated.8
No. It takes about 2 weeks after you get a flu shot for your body to develop protection against the flu.3 And, even if you get a flu shot, no vaccine is 100% effective so it may still be possible to get the flu.9

REFERENCES

1. Seasonal influenza Q&A. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/disease.htm. Updated 2014. Accessed May 28, 2015. 2. Understanding influenza. American Lung Association website. http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/influenza/understanding-influenza.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/. Updated 2015. Accessed May 26, 2016. 3. Key facts about influenza (flu) & flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Updated 2014. Accessed May 15, 2015. 4. Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Updated 2014. Accessed May 28, 2015. 5. Flu & you. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/fluandyou_upright.pdf. Updated 2013. Accessed May 15, 2015. 6. Vaccine effectiveness-How well does the flu vaccine work? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm. Updated 2015. Accessed June 24, 2015. 7. Seasonal influenza (flu): a guide for community & faith-based organizations & leaders. Flu.gov website. http://www.hhs.gov/partnerships/resources/Pubs/seasonal_flu_gd.pdf. Updated 2015. Accessed May 18, 2015. 8. Misconceptions about seasonal flu and flu vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm. Updated 2014. Accessed May 27, 2015. 9. What you need to know about vaccine safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/matte/pdf/ASD-Vaccine-Safety-Matte.pdf. Updated 2015. Accessed August 20, 2015.