Take a shot at beating the flu
Find out if you need a flu shot, how often you need it and the best time to get it.
It's that time of year again. Time to break out the hats and mittens—and time for flu season. This year, take one extra step to stay healthy: Talk to your doctor about getting a seasonal flu vaccine.
Who needs it?
The flu is unpleasant for anyone who gets it. So a flu vaccine is a good idea for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people ages 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for serious flu complications. This includes:
- Young children.
- Pregnant women.
- People with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart or lung disease.
- People 50 years and older.
Vaccination is also important for people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for serious flu complications.
If you have questions about whether or not to get a flu shot, talk to your doctor.
Getting the flu shot is not a guarantee that you will not get the flu. However, if you do get the flu, the illness will probably be far less severe if you've been vaccinated.
The flu vaccine is safe for just about everyone. Because the vaccine is made with killed viruses—or, in some cases, just the protein needed for protection—you won't get the flu from a flu shot. You may experience side effects, however, such as:
- Soreness where you received the shot.
- Sore muscles.
Any side effects will be mild and will probably last just one or two days.
Also, since eggs are used to produce most flu vaccines, people with allergic reactions to eggs—other than hives—should talk to their doctor before getting a flu shot. People with an allergy to any ingredient in a vaccine should also talk to their doctor first.
When to get the shot
You will need to get the flu shot every year. That is because the viruses that cause the flu are constantly changing.