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Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system—your nose, throat, and lungs. For most people, the flu can resolve on its own, but sometimes it can lead to serious complications and even death. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu is to get a flu shot every flu season.

Why should you get a flu shot?

Here are some reasons why you should get your flu shot:

Flu shots can be life-saving: The CDC estimates that as many as fifty-six thousand people die from the flu or flu-like illnesses every year. While anyone can get the flu, young children, pregnant women, and people over 65 are at a higher risk of being affected by flu-related complications. So, it is advised that these groups get their flu shots annually.

Protection within the community: The flu is highly contagious and the chance of spreading it to your family or friends is high. If you protect yourself from the flu through the vaccine, you also protect the people around you.

You may feel less sick: Even if you do get the flu after a flu shot, the symptoms will be way milder than if you don’t.

It may prevent other serious medical conditions: Flu vaccination has been associated with reducing the rates of cardiac events, diabetic emergencies, and lung diseases.

Why is it important to get a flu shot every year?

  • Your body’s immune response to the flu vaccine gradually declines over time so a yearly vaccination is recommended for continuous protection.
  • Flu viruses constantly change through a process called antigenic drift and so the vaccines might be updated. You will need the current season’s vaccinations to avoid flu.

Some licensed and recommended flu vaccines include:

Standard-dose flu shots: These are made by growing the viruses inside fertilized chicken eggs.

High-dose flu vaccine: This contains four times the amount of antigen as a standard flu shot and is specifically recommended for people 65 and above.

Cell-based flu vaccine: Instead of chicken eggs, the cell-based flu vaccine is grown in cultured cells of mammalian origin.

Intradermal Flu vaccine: This shot is injected into the skin instead of the muscles.

Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine is given as a nasal spray. It is made with live, weakened influenza viruses.

Adjuvanted vaccine: This is specifically licensed for people 65 and above and is made with an additive that creates a strong immune response.

Flu vaccination by jet injector: This is approved for people between 18 and 64 years of age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone who is six months or older should get an annual flu shot.

Myths and facts about the flu shot

Myth#1: Influenza is not a serious disease, so flu shots are not necessary

Fact: Influenza is a serious disease and tragically every year as many as 56000 people die of it. Many people can recover from the flu in a week, but some may develop serious complications like sinus, ear infections, pneumonia, and even brain inflammation.

Myth#2: Flu shots can give you the flu

Fact: Flu shots contain an inactivated virus that cannot give you the flu. You may experience mild side effects, but they generally last a day or two.

Myth#3: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year

Fact: The flu viruses mutate rapidly so new vaccines are released every year to protect you from them.

Myth#4: Pregnant women shouldn’t get the flu shot

Fact: Pregnant women should get flu vaccines since their immune system is weaker. The inactivated flu shot is safe for pregnant women.

Is the flu shot safe?

Yes, the flu shot is safe. Although there are some people who shouldn’t get it. They include children less than six months of age and people who have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its ingredients before.

Every year CDC and the U.S Food and Drug Administration collaborate to ensure the highest safety standards for flu shots.

What are the side effects of flu shots?

Since flu shots are made using weakened or inactivated flu viruses, or without the flu virus at all, the flu shot cannot give anyone the flu.

Some side effects that may occur include:

  • soreness, redness, or swelling of the skin where the shot was given
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headaches

Consult your primary care physician if you experience any of these serious reactions from the flu shot:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling around the eyes or lips
  • hives
  • dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat

When to get the flu shot?

Experts recommend you should get a flu shot by the end of October. However, you may get the flu shot anytime during the flu season, even in the late winter or early spring months.

Where to get vaccinated?

Flu shots are offered in many hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the country. It may also be available at your school, college, and workplace. The influenza vaccine is available at Manhattan Medical Arts – a multi-specialty clinic located in Chelsea, New York.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Read this to learn more about influenza: Everything You Need To Know About The Flu Virus | Why Should You Get A Flu Shot | Influenza Flu Vaccine | Why You Need A Flu Shot This Year | What Is Influenza

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Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 01/16/2020

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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