Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop an immune response. Get vaccinated now so you will be protected all season long!
Now that kids are back in school, we are reminded of many things typical of this time of year—parent-teacher meetings, sporting events and extracurricular activities. This time of year should also serve as an important reminder that flu season is just around the corner. By getting a flu vaccine for yourself and your entire family every year, you can help prevent flu-related illness, missed school, and missed work.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of serious flu-related complications. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. Anyone can become sick with the flu and experience serious complications. But even if you are healthy and bounce back quickly, others around you might not be so lucky. Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.
Everyone Needs a Flu Vaccine – Every Year
Flu viruses are constantly changing, and different flu viruses circulate and cause illness each season. The annual flu vaccine is updated each year to protect against the flu viruses research indicates will be most common. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every year.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for complications from flu, and for people who live with or care for someone who is at high risk. Some of those people include the following:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as chronic respiratory (such as asthma), cardiovascular disease (except hypertension), or kidney, liver, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (such as diabetes mellitus);
- People who are immunosuppressed
- People who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Children who are 6 months through 18 years old and are on long-term aspirin therapy
- People who are morbidly obese
- American Indians/Alaska Natives
- 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 less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Get a Flu Vaccine Every Flu Season
You should get vaccinated every year for two reasons. The first reason is that because flu viruses are constantly changing, the flu vaccine is often updated from one season to the next to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The second reason is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time so a yearly vaccination is needed for optimal protection. Yearly vaccination is recommended even for those who received the vaccine during the previous flu season.
A Reminder for Parents
Many children need two doses of flu vaccine this season to be fully protected. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses. Some children in this age group who have received a flu vaccine in prior seasons will also need two doses. Your child’s health care provider can tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child.
The flu vaccine is safe. People have been receiving flu vaccines for more than 50 years. Vaccine safety is closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been given safely to people across the country for decades.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given, maybe a low fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or cough. If you do experience them at all, these side effects are usually mild and short-lived.