Vaccination is the surest way to protect against getting the flu. The flu can become more than just a feverish, achy condition that lasts a few days. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are hospitalized every year with complications from influenza.
Get your flu shot every year to protect yourself and help keep the flu from spreading to others.
All people age 6 months and older who want to reduce their risk of getting sick should get a flu shot. Those more at risk of illness and complications from the flu include:
Flu viruses can change over time so every year the flu shot is updated to contain the flu viruses most likely to spread that year. The viruses may change after the flu shot is made. Even if this happens, you will still get some protection from the flu shot.
VA doesn't vaccinate family members of Veterans or VA staff. If they would like to get a flu shot, check the flu shot locator on Flu.gov.
You should get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available in the fall so you are protected all winter. You will need to get a new flu shot every year to protect yourself from the flu viruses circulating that season.
Contact your nearest VA health care facility to learn more about vaccine availability.
After you get the flu shot, it takes about 2 weeks for your body to make enough antibodies to protect you against flu.
Antibodies are proteins produced by your immune system that identify and help remove foreign targets such as viruses and bacteria. The flu shot helps your body build these antibodies to fight flu viruses and prevent you from getting sick.
This is a common misconception. You cannot get the flu from a flu shot because it contains strains of non-living flu viruses.
If you get the flu soon after getting a flu shot this could mean you were exposed to the flu virus before the flu shot took effect. Other reasons include:
The flu vaccine can be tolerated by people with egg allergies that are not severe. Check with your health care provider if you have a severe egg allergy. Some flu vaccine contains egg protein.
Yes, the flu shot is both safe and effective. Most people have no serious side effects or allergic reaction to it.
Some people may have redness or swelling on their arm where the shot was given. A very small number of people may get minor body aches, headache, or a low-grade fever that lasts a day or two.
The Institute of Medicine reviewed more than 1,000 research articles and concluded that few health problems are associated with vaccines. Learn more about these findings.
Take these simple precautions:
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