Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Seasonal Flu Vaccine FAQs

Why is the flu vaccine important?

The flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection and the spread of influenza. It is up to 90 percent effective in healthy people less than 65 years old.

Who should get the seasonal flu vaccine?

According to the CDC, anyone who wants to reduce his or her chances of getting the seasonal flu should get the vaccine. However, those people who are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or people who live or care for people with this risk should get vaccinated annually.

In particular, the following people who should get the seasonal vaccine each year:

  • Everyone 6 months of age and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

    1. Health care workers
    2. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    3. Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

This information was obtained from the CDC Web site.

Who should NOT get the seasonal flu vaccine?

According to the CDC, there are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination
  • People who developed Guillain-Barré within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
  • Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group)
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (They should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

This information was obtained from the CDC Web site.

I never get the flu. Why must I get vaccinated?

Just because you haven't had the flu in the past doesn't mean you will never get it. In addition, you may have had the flu and not known it. Almost 30 percent of people infected with the flu virus have no or mild symptoms, but are able to infect others - especially our patients with weakened immune systems.

What is in the flu shot?

Each year, a specific flu vaccine is created based on influenza strains that experts predict will be in circulation that year. Three of the most common strains are combined, and "killed" versions are used to create the vaccine. When the vaccine is injected, the body begins to produce antibodies against the three influenza strains. Since the viruses are "killed," you are not at risk of contracting the flu.

Can I get the flu from the flu shot?

No. The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactive), so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

Are there any side effects to the flu shot?

The most common side effect is mild arm soreness. Redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever and aches can occur. These reactions are not from infection and are rarely severe, usually lasting just a couple of days.

What can I do when my arm becomes sore from the flu shot?

It is fine to take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Can I have an allergic reaction to the shot?

Allergic reactions can occur to any medicine or vaccine. Fortunately, they are rare. People with severe egg allergy should not get the flu vaccine.

Should I also get the pneumonia vaccine? Who should get this?

If you are in one of the groups below, you should get the Pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine.

  • Persons 65 years old or older.
  • Persons 2-64 years of age with chronic medical problems, including heart disease; lung problems, including people who smoke; diabetes; alcoholism or liver disease.
  • People with weak immune systems, including those with AIDS or cancer.
  • Children less than 5 years old.
Can I get the seasonal flu shot if I have a fever?

No, you should wait until you are fever-free to get vaccinated.

Can I get the flu shot if I have cold symptoms with no fever?

Yes.

Can I get the flu shot more than once a year?

A flu vaccine in the fall typically provides protection throughout the flu season; so, only one shot is needed.

Can I get the flu vaccine if I am pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant?

Yes, the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women. In fact, women who are pregnant are at increased risk for severe complications from influenza and premature labor. It is strongly recommended that pregnant women, those who plan to become pregnant or those who are caring for an infant should get vaccinated to keep themselves and their unborn children or infants safe.

How long does the flu shot protect you from the flu?

Every year, there are different flu viruses in the United States; so, a new vaccine is made every year. The vaccine for that year will last throughout the influenza season. 

How long does it take for the flu shot to become effective in fighting off the flu?

The vaccine works by helping your body make antibodies for fighting the flu. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies to reach full strength.

Does the flu vaccine protect you from all strains of the flu?

The flu vaccine protects against the three flu strains that are in the vaccine. It is up to 90 percent effective in healthy people up to 65 years old. However, in some years, there is not a perfect "match" between the flu strains in the vaccine and the flu strains causing infection, and the vaccine effectiveness can be lower. This year's seasonal flu vaccine covers H1N1, so you do not need to get a separate vaccine for H1N1.

Does my insurance cover the flu shot?

Most private insurance and government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, cover the cost of influenza vaccination. If you are uncertain, call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card.

How much is the flu shot?

Most private insurance and government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, cover the cost of influenza vaccination. If you are uncertain, call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card.

Where can I get the H1N1 vaccine?

The H1N1 vaccine is covered in the seasonal influenza vaccine this year, so you do not need to get a separate H1N1 vaccine. You can get the seasonal influenza vaccine at The Emory Clinic.

Can I get the vaccine without the H1N1 component?

No, you cannot get the seasonal influenza vaccine without the H1N1 component.

Questions About Influenza?

E-mail influenza@emoryhealthcare.org.