Influenza shots (often called flu shots) are vaccines that reduce your risk of flu illness. Influenza is a respiratory illness that can cause fever, chills, cough and fatigue. This is not related to gastroenteritis, which some people call the stomach flu. The flu vaccine is an important step in maintaining your health.
Protect yourself and others by getting your flu shot. It not only reduces your risk of illness but can prevent hospitalizations and death. With COVID-19 circulating at the same time, it's important to decrease the possible negative impacts on your respiratory system.
Below you'll find how to schedule a flu shot near you. If you aren't already vaccinated against COVID-19 or are due for a booster, you can save time by scheduling both during the same visit.
When to Schedule Your Flu Shot
It's best to get your flu shot by the end of October, since this is the month flu activity typically begins increasing. If you miss that deadline and are wondering if it's too late to get your flu shot — don’t worry — you can still get your vaccine later in the season. Flu shots can offer protection for six months, on average, and flu activity historically peaks in February. It's better to get your flu vaccine late than skip it altogether.
Almost everyone, six months and older, should get the immunization. The vaccine is safe and recommended for pregnant women. It is especially important for vulnerable populations, including older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions – like cancer or diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies a few rare exceptions for those who shouldn't get the vaccine, including people who are allergic to the ingredients in the flu vaccine. If you have concerns, talk with your care team.
Not Feeling Well? Here's What to Do.
You might be confused about which virus is making you sick. If it's the flu, there's a good chance you can remember the day and even the hour you began feeling sick. Other illness, including COVID-19, usually set in much more gradually.
Flu symptoms can include:
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
If you're sick, we're here to provide safe care, your way. There are several options to consider if you want to see a doctor. Those include your primary care doctor, urgent care, virtual care and, in severe cases, the emergency department.
The flu vaccine is an important step in maintaining your health. In the U.S. alone, 3 percent to 11 percent of people get sick from the flu virus every year and thousands of those die. There may be a few rare exceptions, but in general, everyone six months of age and older should get an influenza vaccine every year.
Because the influenza virus can vary from year to year, the effectiveness can fluctuate. The vaccine that comes out each year is the best prediction of what the main circulating viruses will be. No vaccine has 100 percent effectiveness, but the vaccine will likely reduce the severity and length of your illness.
Flu vaccines reduce the risk of illness by up to 60 percent when the vaccine is well matched to the circulating viruses. Even if you do get sick, the chances of severe illness and/or hospitalization is lower with vaccination.