Do I Need the Flu Shot?

Even healthy people can get the flu, and it can be serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year, which includes protection against multiple strains.

Note: Click any question to reveal its answer.

  • What is influenza (also called flu)?
    The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
  • Signs and symptoms of flu
    People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
    • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue (very tired)
    • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
    *It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
  • How flu spreads
    Most experts believe that flu viruses 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. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
  • When to get vaccinated against seasonal flu
    Yearly flu vaccination should begin soon after flu vaccine is available, and ideally by October. However, getting vaccinated even later can be protective, as long as flu viruses are circulating. While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.
  • Who Should Get Vaccinated This Season?
    Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people. Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications for a full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk. More information is available at Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza.

Note: Flu vaccines are also available at any time at any health center. Please call to make an appointment.