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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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The Flu Vaccine: Get the Facts

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“Flu” is a little word that gets passed around a lot these days. It’s also a big disease that you should take seriously. In 2013, more than 3,600 people died from it.

To protect yourself and stop the spread, you need a flu vaccine. Learn what it is and when to get it to help keep your family flu-free.

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Prevent Flu: Steer Clear of Sick People

You've heard them -- flu-sick sneezers and coughers at the office, day care, shopping mall, or grocery store. Avoiding the flu is no small matter. So what can you do? One sure flu prevention tip is to avoid close contact with people who are sick. Anyone who is at high risk from the seasonal flu -- like young children and older adults -- should avoid crowds and public places during the usual flu season, from late October to mid-March. The honest truth is, in a large environment -- waiting rooms,...

Read the Prevent Flu: Steer Clear of Sick People article > >

The Flu Vaccine: What Is It?

It’s a shot that protects you from the flu virus. You normally get it in your arm, but you can also get it as a nasal spray. It’s made from the three or four flu viruses that are most likely to make you sick during the upcoming year.

Who Should Get It?

Almost everyone 6 months of age and older.

Some people are more at risk of getting very sick from complications of the flu than others. These groups should be sure to get a flu shot each year:

  • Children, especially from 6 months of age to the age of 5 
  • Pregnant women
  • Seniors over age 65
  • People with existing health conditions
  • Travelers and people living abroad

The following people should not get a flu shot:

  • Children under 6 months old
  • People who are very allergic to the flu shot or any of its ingredients

Talk to your doctor before you get the shot if you have any of these symptoms:

  • An allergy to eggs or any of the other ingredients in the vaccine
  • A history of Guillian-Barre syndrome
  • If you’re just not feeling well

When Should I Get It?

As soon as they become available, by October, if possible. It’s best to get the vaccine before the flu season starts. But you can still get it in January or even later.

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