Key Points about Flu Vaccine
- Get a flu shot each year beginning in October.
- You can get a flu shot at your primary care physician's office or walk-in clinic, depending on what is available in your area. If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, please call your primary care provider.
- The flu vaccine helps reduce hospitalizations related to serious complications of the flu.
- The flu vaccine is often given with little or no charge to the patient.
Candidates for a flu vaccine
Experts recommend an annual flu vaccine for those over the age of six months, especially those who are older and those who work in health care. There are certain groups of people who should talk to their doctor first before getting a flu vaccine, including:
- Those who are allergic to the vaccine or its components.
- People who have a severe egg allergy.
- Those who have developed Guillain-Barre´Synrome within six weeks of getting a flu vaccine.
Preparing for a flu vaccine
You should get a flu shot each year before the flu starts to spread in your community. The best time to get a flu vaccine is in October each year, which gives your body time to create antibodies before flu season is in full effect. If you don’t get it in October, it is still recommended you get your vaccine even if it’s later in the flu season. You don’t have to do anything to prepare for a flu shot. Simply call your provider’s office to determine the best way for you to receive yours.
What to expect from a flu vaccine
Getting a flu vaccine is similar to getting other types of vaccines.
The flu shot protects your health by:
- Preventing you from getting sick.
- Reducing your likelihood of complications, which could require a hospital visit.
- Boosting immunity to flu in general, meaning that even if you do get sick, you could experience milder symptoms than if you hadn’t gotten the flu vaccine.
You will receive the vaccine through a syringe injected into your arm. The health care worker will place a bandage over the injection site to stop any bleeding. The injection takes only a few seconds.
Your arm may be slightly sore for a day or two after you receive the vaccine. The injection site might be a little red after getting the flu shot. Some people may experience body aches or a low-grade fever. Try to keep your arm moving regularly to help reduce soreness. It typically takes about two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine for your body to create immunity against the flu.
Flu vaccine side effects
Most vaccines, medications and procedures have side effects. The flu shot is no different. Although often mild, common side effects from the flu shot include:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
- Muscle aches
Duration of flu vaccine protection
How long will the flu vaccine protect you from influenza? Generally speaking, around six months. After that, the protection level begins to decline, depending on the strain of influenza.
Flu vaccine and COVID-19
The flu vaccine does not protect you from contracting COVID-19, but it can reduce the risk of illness and hospitalization due to severe complications from the flu. This year’s flu season will overlap with the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s essential to reduce your risk of the flu and reduce the burden on the health system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’ve been diagnosed and recovered from COVID-19, and are out of quarantine and asymptomatic, it’s best to talk with your primary care physician about your flu vaccine options.
Where to get your flu vaccine
Call your primary care provider’s office for your annual flu vaccine. Find a provider today.