A simple vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. It may sound like a minor illness, but it can cause big problems for some people. It can even be deadly.
Learn the facts about the vaccine so you and your family can stay flu-free.
When Should I Get It?
Peak flu season can start as early as October and run through May. The best time to get a flu shot is as soon as it's available, usually in September or October. It takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to take effect. You can still get a shot in December or later, but the earlier you get it, the higher your odds of staying well.
What Types of Vaccine Can I Get?
There are several:
- The traditional flu shot is an injection into your arm muscle. It’s made from pieces of inactive flu viruses.
- An egg-free flu shot, unlike other types, isn’t grown inside eggs. It’s an option for people over age 18 who have severe egg allergies.
- The high-dose flu shot is for people ages 65 and older. They may need a stronger dose to get the same protection.
- An intradermal flu shot uses a tiny needle that only goes skin deep. It’s for people ages 18 to 64.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) doesn’t use a needle. It’s made from live but weakened flu viruses. Another name for it is LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine). It’s for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren’t pregnant, who are not allergic to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients, and who don’t have weak immune systems. It should not be used for the 2016-2017 flu season. Check with your doctor to make sure it’s right for you.
Some vaccines protect against more than one flu virus strain. Trivalent vaccines work against three strains; quadrivalent vaccines fight four types of flu. The traditional flu shot comes in both forms. High-dose only comes in the trivalent form.