Everyone age 6 months and older needs to get a flu shot (vaccine) every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu.
For many people, the seasonal flu is a mild illness. But for some people, the flu can be dangerous or even deadly.
The flu can sometimes:
- Cause serious infections like pneumonia (“noo-MOHN-yah”)
- Make some health problems – like asthma – worse
- Lead to hospitalization or death
The flu spreads easily from person to person. When you get the flu shot, you don’t just protect yourself – you also protect everyone around you.
What is the flu?
The flu is caused by viruses that infect your nose, throat, and lungs. It’s easily spread from person to person.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Feeling feverish or having chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
Am I at high risk for complications from the flu?
For some people, the flu is more likely to cause serious illness that can lead to hospitalization or even death.
Groups at high risk from the flu include:
If you are at high risk from the flu, it’s very important to get the vaccine before the flu starts to spread in your community.
If you spend time with someone at high risk from the flu, you can protect both of you by getting a flu shot.
When do I need to get the seasonal flu shot?
Get the flu shot soon after it’s available each year. After you get the vaccine, your body takes about 2 weeks to develop protection against the flu. That’s why it’s a good idea to get the vaccine before flu starts spreading in your community.
Flu season is different from year to year. It can start as early as October and last as late as May.
Can I get the nasal (nose) spray instead of the shot?
The flu vaccine can be given as a nasal spray or a shot. People may get the nasal spray if they:
- Are between ages 2 and 49
- Aren’t pregnant
- Don’t have certain health conditions, like asthma or diabetes
Are there any side effects from the seasonal flu vaccine?
Most people don’t have any side effects after getting the flu vaccine. Some people may have mild side effects. These side effects begin soon after the vaccine is given and usually last 1 to 2 days. These side effects aren’t the flu.
People who get the flu shot may feel achy or have a sore arm where the shot was given. You can’t get the flu from the flu shot because it’s made from killed flu viruses.
Flu nasal spray
People who get the nasal spray may have a stuffy nose and sore throat afterward. The flu viruses in the nasal spray are weakened and can’t cause the flu.
Read more about the seasonal flu vaccine.