It's time to protect yourself from getting the flu this fall and winter. The best way to do that is by getting your flu shot before flu season begins.
We expect both COVID-19 and flu viruses to spread. That's why it's important for you to get vaccinated. Getting your flu shot can protect you from serious illnesses.
How does the flu spread?
The flu spreads easily. People who have the flu spread the virus through droplets when they sneeze, cough or talk. Those droplets can land in your nose, mouth or eyes if you're nearby.
Plus, a person who is sick can leave infected droplets on objects such as doorknobs. If you touch the doorknob and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes, you might infect yourself.
Can I get sick from a flu shot?
It's common to have soreness, redness or swelling on your arm where you got the shot. This is your immune system responding to the shot. The immune system is the part of your body that fights illness. This kind of response usually goes away in 1 to 3 days.
Some people also get a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches for 1 to 2 days after the shot. This is also due to your immune system.
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.
I’m pretty healthy. Do I need a flu shot?
Even healthy people can get the flu and other illnesses from it. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to get a flu shot.
Some people are more likely to get other illnesses from the flu. They include:
- Adults ages 65+
- Younger children
- Pregnant women
- People with ongoing health problems
These ongoing health problems include:
- Asthma (a serious breathing illness)
- Heart disease
- Spinal cord injury
What are my chances of getting the flu?
The 2021-2022 flu season was fairly mild. This was partly because of COVID-19. We wore masks, washed our hands more often and stayed apart from others.
The flu still causes many illnesses, hospital stays and even deaths. During the 2021-2022 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were up to:
- 13 million flu illnesses
- 6 million+ flu-related medical visits
- 170,000 flu-related hospital stays
- 14,000 flu-related deaths
Who needs to get a flu shot?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. It is the best way to protect yourself and those around you.
When should I get my flu shot?
The best time is between early September and the end of October, before the flu starts to spread in your community. It takes about 2 weeks after you get your shot for antibodies in the shot to start to protect you.
The only people who need to have their shots earlier are children under age 9 who haven't had a flu shot before. They need 2 shots at least 4 weeks apart.
Schedule your flu shot today
Get your flu shot at an Optum location near you.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021-2022 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimates. Accessed September 2, 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Accessed September 2, 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19. Accessed September 2, 2022.
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.