Should You Get a Flu Shot?
At Sharp, we believe in comprehensive, preventive care so you can stay happy and healthy year-round. We're here to help you make an informed decision about getting a flu shot.
Here, we answer some common questions about the flu and the flu shot, so you can best prepare yourself and your family for the coming flu season.
Who should get the seasonal flu vaccine?
Anyone who is at least 6 months of age and wants to reduce his or her chances of getting the flu should get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is especially important for:
- Children, ages 6 months to 18 years old, who receive the pediatric vaccine
- People age 50 and older
- People living with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes
- People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
- People who care for those at high risk for complications from flu, such as health care workers and out-of-home caregivers
- Pregnant women
If you have severe illness or may be at high risk for flu complications, contact your doctor or seek medical care.
Who should not get the seasonal flu vaccine?
Talk to your primary care physician if you have concerns about getting a flu shot. Generally, those who meet any of the below criteria should not get the flu vaccine:
- Children less than 6 months of age
- People who are experiencing a moderate to severe illness with a fever
- People with life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in the flu vaccine (such as gelatin or antibiotics)*
- People who previously developed the rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome after receiving the seasonal flu vaccine
*People diagnosed with an egg allergy can request an egg-free vaccination.
How do flu vaccines work?
The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in the body. These antibodies provide protection against the influenza virus infection.
Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?
Influenza is a serious illness and an annual vaccination is the best way to reduce your chances of catching the flu. On average in the United States, the flu causes 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations — mostly among those ages 65 and older.
When should I get a flu vaccination?
The best time to get vaccinated is in October and November. Flu activity in the United States is generally from November through April each year and usually peaks between late December and early March.
Does the flu vaccine work right away?
No, it generally takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body. In the meantime, you are still at risk for developing the flu — which is why doctors recommend that you get vaccinated in early fall, before the flu season is underway.
Why do I need to get vaccinated every year?
Flu viruses change from year to year, which means you can get the flu more than once during your lifetime. A vaccine that provides protection from one strain of the virus may not protect you against a new strain of the virus the following year.
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