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Flu shots: Know the facts

Don't let flu myths keep you from getting your shot.

September 11, 2023 | 2-minute read

What’s your top excuse for not getting a flu shot? These myth busters will prove that getting vaccinated is your best shot for not getting the flu.

Myth: Flu numbers have been lower in recent years. This flu season could be the same, so I can skip the flu shot this year.

Fact: At the peak of COVID-19, we wore masks, washed our hands more often and stayed apart from others. These measures are now less strict.

Getting a shot is a safer choice than risking illness. Most years, the flu causes many illnesses, hospital stays and even death. Make appointments to get your flu shot and your updated COVID-19 booster to cover for new variants.

These shots can help you stay healthy or lower your chance of getting very sick from these viruses. You can also get your COVID-19 and flu shots at the same visit.

Myth: I’m fairly young and healthy, and I got the flu shot last year. I don’t need the flu shot again this year, right?

Fact: You should not skip your annual flu shot. It’s an important way for you to stay healthy. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advice for flu and COVID-19 precautions. Vaccination sites will also follow CDC guidelines to keep you safe. 

Flu shots are updated every year. They are based on the types of flu strains expected to be common that season. So, they may be different from last year.

Also, any protection you had from last year’s shot lessens over time. It may not be enough to protect you this season.

Myth: I might catch the flu from the flu shot.

Fact: According to the CDC, the flu shot cannot give you the flu. The shots have an inactive virus or virus particles that won’t make you sick.

Some people may get a low-grade fever that goes away within 1 to 2 days. They may think they caught the flu, but this is their immune system responding to the shot. The immune system is the part of your body that fights illness.

These kinds of responses to the shot mean your body is gearing up to fight the flu virus. If you're later exposed to the flu virus, you'll be better prepared to fight it.

Myth: It's too late in the season for me to get a flu shot this year. 

Fact: Flu season is usually from November through the end of April. It takes 2 weeks to get full protection from the vaccine. The best time to get your flu shot is between September and the end of October, before flu season starts.

But if it’s later in the flu season and you haven’t gotten the flu shot yet, it’s not too late to get it.

Myth:  I've heard that people 65 years and older should get a different flu shot. 

Fact: All flu vaccines provide protection against the flu. The CDC recommends certain vaccines for people ages 65+. But don't wait for a specific one. The most important thing is to get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you.

Schedule your flu shot today. Get your flu shot at an Optum location near you.

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.