Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu infections are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.
Yes. It’s possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test).
There are many reasons to get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year. The flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults, and older adults. Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season.
Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu. For the 2022-23 flu season, 174 children died from flu complications, with the majority of those children being unvaccinated.
Flu vaccines are offered in many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools.
CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins.
A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle (flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been killed (inactivated) and are therefore not infectious, or b) with proteins from a flu vaccine virus instead of flu vaccine viruses
Flu vaccines have a good safety record. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of flu vaccines.
Yes, pregnant women should get a flu shot to protect themselves and their developing babies.
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in your community.
Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick. However, flu vaccination has been shown in some studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
CDC conducts studies each year to determine how well the influenza (flu) vaccine protects against flu illness. While vaccine effectiveness (VE) can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.