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?
Flu shots are made with an inactive virus or protein from the flu virus so they cannot cause flu illness.
Some people may get a low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches after having a flu 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.
It’s more common to have soreness, redness or swelling on your arm where you got the shots. 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 age 65 and over
- 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?
Flu rates have been mild the last few years. This was partly because of COVID-19. We wore masks, washed our hands more often and stayed apart from others. But relaxed COVID-19 rules may cause higher flu rates again.
The flu still causes many illnesses, hospital stays and even deaths. During the 2022-2023 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were up to:
- 27-54 million flu illnesses
- 12-26 million flu-related medical visits
- 300,000-650,000 flu-related hospital stays
- 19,000-58,000 flu-related deaths
Who needs to get a flu shot?
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot every year. It’s 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.
Pregnant people in their third trimester may get the flu vaccine. This is to protect their babies from getting flu as a newborn when they’re too young to get vaccinated.