Flu ShotFAQs


Questions about getting a flu shot? Our FAQs have the answers you’re looking for, including information about the side effects, risks, and efficacy of the flu vaccine. 


Why do I need a flu shot?

The seasonal flu is a serious disease that can cause mild-to-severe illness and life-threatening complications for people of all ages. In an average year, the seasonal flu causes 36,000 deaths and 226,000 hospitalizations throughout the United States.

Luckily, getting a flu vaccine can greatly reduce your chances of getting sick.

When should I get vaccinated?

Since flu activity usually peaks between late December and March, the best time to get a flu vaccine is during October or November.

Does the flu vaccine start working right away?

No. It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to provide protection against the flu virus. In the meantime you're still at risk, so get vaccinated early to protect yourself before flu season really gets started.

Once I've gotten the vaccine, can I still get the flu?

Yes. The vaccine's ability to protect you depends on your age, your overall health, and how closely the vaccine virus matches the flu virus in circulation.

If you get the flu vaccine and still get the flu, it will likely be a far milder case than you would've had otherwise.

Why should I get vaccinated every year?

  • The immunity that's built up from one virus strain doesn't always protect against a new virus strain. This means a vaccine made against flu viruses from last year may not protect against new viruses in circulation this year.
  • When you get a flu shot every year, you can be sure you're getting the most current (and most effective) protection available.

Are there any flu vaccine side effects?

The most common flu vaccine side effects are:

  • Soreness
  • Redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Low fever

If these symptoms occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days.

Will I get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No. The flu shot is made from dead viruses, and you can't get the flu from viruses that are no longer alive.

Should I get the flu vaccine if I'm pregnant, might be pregnant, or am thinking of becoming pregnant soon?

Yes. In fact, flu shots aren't just safe for pregnant women - they're highly recommended! Since you pass immunity on to your unborn baby, they'll also be protected from the flu during their first months of life.

What are the risks of getting the flu vaccine?

There are risks associated with all vaccines, just as there are risks with taking any type of medication. In very rare cases, a vaccine may cause serious problems like a severe allergic reaction.

The risk of the flu vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely small. Hardly anyone who gets the vaccine experiences serious problems.

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