Flu Shots: It's Not Too Late

Everyone around you snuffling and sneezing? Take heart, there's still time for prevention!

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 10, 2016
3 min read

It's September and you may want to start thinking ahead to flu season when  friends and family start coming down with flu symptomsfevers, body aches, and fatigue.

If you want to hedge your bets, it's good to  start thinking ahead for the flu season by getting the  protection afforded by the flu vaccine.

Flu viruses change from year to year. So each year, manufacturers develop a new vaccine based on predictions of what strains of influenza viruses will be around during flu season. In the spring of 2009, the H1N1 virus spread to the U.S. too late to be included in the regular “seasonal vaccine.” So a separate vaccine - the H1N1 flu vaccine -- was developed. That H1N1 vaccine is now included in the yearly vaccine..  


The best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated, say the experts at the CDC. That means getting a flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine, preferably between October and November.

Flu season usually peaks in February -- though it can spike anywhere from November to May. So, getting the flu vaccine later can help protect you and others from down-time with the flu bug. And you can boost the power of prevention by:

  • Scrubbing your hands often
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Exercising most days
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet


Won't the flu vaccine make me sick?
Have no fear, getting vaccinated against the flu won't give you influenza. The flu shot is made of killed virus; the mist is made of live, but weakened virus. Both vaccines may produce mild symptoms like muscle aches and a runny nose, but these symptoms are brief and far less severe than the actual flu itself.

I'm pregnant. Should I get the flu shot?
Pregnant women can be particularly vulnerable to flu complications, which include pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.

If you'll be pregnant during flu season, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

Should everyone be vaccinated?
While the experts recommend flu vaccinations for most people, they're not right for everyone.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is only recommended for nonpregnant, healthy people ages 2 through 49. It should not be used in children younger than 2 years old or by people with severe allergies to the vaccine or any of its ingredients. Do not use the mist for the 2017-2018 flu season.

Flu vaccination may not be suitable for those who have had severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past, history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (a serious neurological condition), or chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease (CIDP) or children less than 6 months old. People with moderate-to-severe illness with fever should wait until they recover before getting vaccinated. Those with an egg allergy that results in hives can receive the vaccine. Those with severe egg allergies should receive it while in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting.

Not sure if these limitations apply to you? Give your doctor a call.