Last flu season, around 22,000 people died of the flu
Believe it or not, the flu is still a big threat to people’s health. To make things worse, flu viruses can change each flu season. That’s why it’s vital to get your flu shot every year.
The flu shot is safe, easy to get and free!
Where can you get the flu shot?
If you’re not sure where to go to, use our Locate a Pharmacy search tool to find a pharmacy near you. Just enter your zip code (e.g. 43214) or city, state (e.g. Columbus, OH).
The sooner you get your flu shot, the sooner you start protecting yourself and others! Need a doctor? We can help with that too! Just use our Find a Doctor tool.
When is the flu season?
Flu season can start as early as September and can go through May. You should try to get your flu shot before the flu starts spreading in your community. The earlier you get your flu shot, the better. Always plan to get your flu shot as soon as it becomes available in the fall. If that’s not possible, at least plan to get it before the end of October.
Note: The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect you from the flu. It’s vital to get the flu shot even if you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine.
Who should get the flu shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people six months of age or older should get the flu shot every year. The flu shot is most vital for those who have a higher risk of health-related issues, should they get the flu. These people are called “high-risk”. The CDC classifies high risk to be:
- People 65 years of age or older
- Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
- People who live in a nursing home or other long-term care facilities
- People of any age with certain chronic conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes, heart, kidney, liver and blood or metabolic disorders.)
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for health-related issues.
Is the flu shot safe?
According to the CDC, the flu shot has a history of being safe. For more than 60 years, millions of people around the world have gotten the flu shot and scientific research organizations have told us that it is safe.
If you have any concerns, we strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor or local pharmacist. You can also read the CDC’s flu shot safety information.
Why is the flu shot important?
The flu shot helps protect you from getting influenza. Influenza is a serious respiratory disease that affects your breathing. Influenza can lead to hospitalizations or even death for people who are at high risk for health-related issues.
Still not sure about the flu shot? Read more about the benefits of getting your flu shot.
How does the flu shot work?
A flu shot works by telling your body to create antibodies. These antibodies are developed about two weeks after getting the flu shot and are what help to protect you against the flu viruses. As you begin to develop these antibodies, some people may experience mild fevers and chills.
There are many types of flu shots. The CDC provides up-to-date information on which flu shots are available each flu season. Take a look at different types of flu shots to learn more.
Flu Shot Facts
- FACT: The flu shot does not give you the flu.
The virus in the flu shot is a dead virus. A dead virus cannot make you sick. Instead, it helps your body build immunity.
- FACT: The flu virus is always changing.
The flu virus strains can change from one year to the next. The flu shot is updated each season as needed. This is based on which flu viruses will be most common.
- FACT: The flu shot is very safe.
The flu shot has a long history of being safe. The first flu shot was developed in the 1940s. The CDC routinely monitors the safety of the flu shot.
- FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect you from the flu.
It doesn’t matter if you are vaccinated for COVID-19. The viruses that cause the flu are different from the virus that causes COVID-19. Because of this, it is still vital to get your flu shot to protect yourself from the flu.
- FACT: People aged 65+ need the flu shot.
People that are 65 years of age and older are at a higher risk for health-related issues if they get the flu. Getting the flu shot can reduce the risk of serious health-related issues.
- FACT: The flu shot is safe during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says pregnant women can get the flu shot at any point during pregnancy. The antibodies produced by the mother will transfer to the baby and protect them until they are able to get the flu shot at six months of age.
Flu vs. COVID-19
You may be wondering how the flu and COVID-19 are the same, or how they are different. Both diseases are contagious respiratory illnesses, but COVID-19 is caused by a different virus than the flu. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus and flu is caused by the Influenza A and Influenza B viruses. It is vital to understand that the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar.
Common symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19 are below:
|Muscle and body aches||✓||✓|
|Change or loss of taste or smell||✓|
The CDC says it may be difficult to figure out the differences between the viruses based on symptoms alone and recommends testing to help confirm a diagnosis.
The CDC is learning more about COVID-19 every day. Get the most recent information for differences between the flu and COVID-19.
Go to the COVID-19 Member Resource Center to get more help.
Are you a parent?
Check out the KidsHealth Flu Center to learn all about how to help prevent the flu in your child, what signs and symptoms to look for and what to do if your child gets the flu.