Why You Need to Get a Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Tis’ the season for pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking, leaves changing color, and all things autumn. This time of year, we must also remember to protect ourselves from the seasonal flu by getting vaccinated!

Many people ignore doctor recommendations to get the influenza vaccine. We walk past signs and ignore commercials which highlight important information about the vaccine. What we cannot ignore are the negative symptoms and dangers associated with contracting the flu.

If you are on the fence about the seasonal flu vaccine, we want to break it down for you. Keep reading and learn how you can be proactive about your health before it is too late.

What is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is an injection that helps to build antibodies in your immune system. These antibodies will fight off the flu germs if you are exposed to them.  After you receive the flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity and protect you against the influenza virus.

There are several different types of flu vaccine, including:

  • Standard-dose inactivated trivalent shot: Ages 18 through 64 years
  • High dose inactivated trivalent shot: Ages 65 and older (High dose creates a stronger immune response for older adults)
  • Adjunctivated inactivated trivalent shot: Ages 65 and older (Adjuvent added to create a stronger immune response)Egg-free recombinant inactivated trivalent shot: 18 years and older
  • Quadrivalent inactivated flu shot: 6 months and older
  • Intradermal quadrivalent inactivated flu shot: ages 18 through 64 years (uses a smaller needle than the regular shot)

Ask your doctor which one is right for you.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a yearly flu vaccine. From the smallest children to the oldest most frail adults, the flu vaccine is highly recommended by doctors and the CDC.

According to the CDC, one of the top eight reasons for death in adults 65 and older is flu-related complications. As you age, your immune system weakens, so it is important to stay up to date with your vaccination. In addition, the flu virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly between people.  The more people who get the vaccine, the less it will spread.

vaccines-protect
CDC, 2017

If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the flu vaccine (gelatin, antibiotics, eggs), you should talk with your doctor about whether the vaccine is safe for you.

Why should I get a flu vaccine?

The symptoms of the flu are miserable.  Symptoms may include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat, muscle or body aches
  • Signs of fatigue

The flu vaccine can save you from these symptoms, from medical complications, and from missing work or everyday life due to illness. In addition, every year, thousands of people come in contact with the flu. This poses the risk of spreading it to others.

Avoid these symptoms by getting a flu vaccine before flu season begins. Don’t underestimate how fast a disease can spread to you.

NFID Flu 65 Infographic Thumbnail
NFID, 2017

Where can I get the flu vaccine?

There are hundreds of resources around you from doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments. To find the nearest vaccination location, click here.


What are some commons myths about the flu vaccine?

Myth: If it’s after Thanksgiving, it’s too late to get the vaccine.

FALSE:  The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated by the end of October, when the outbreak usually begins. However, the end of November is still effective to prepare for the season ahead since the flu is unpredictable. From December to March, and as late as May, is when the seasonal flu virus usually peaks. It takes about two weeks for the immunity of the vaccination to fully protect the body against the flu virus, so keep that in mind and plan to get it earlier in the season.

Myth: Getting vaccinated twice will provide extra immunity

FALSE:  One dose is enough to build immunity. It is important to get vaccinated every year, as the vaccination’s protection declines over time.

Myth: The flu vaccine gave me the flu.

FALSE:  It is not clinically possible for the flu vaccine to give someone the flu.  There are several reasons that someone may still contract the flu after receiving the vaccine.  First, the flu vaccine only protects against the most prevalent strains of the influenza virus; it is possible that someone can get another strain of the flu, not included in the vaccine. It is also possible that the individual contracted the flu before being vaccine and the symptoms came later.  Another possibility is that the individual contracted the flu during the two-week window of time that it takes to build immunity.

Learn more:

Check out the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ post on flu myths & facts.

Check out this quiz from the CDC to find out what other vaccines you should get.

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References:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

MedStar Visiting Nurse Association

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