It’s time for your flu shot: Here’s what you need to know

Influenza (flu) is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can result in more serious illness. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in ongoing yearly studies to reduce severity of illness.

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with circulating influenza viruses.

How do flu vaccines work?

Seasonal flu vaccines are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. All flu vaccines in the United States are “quadrivalent” vaccines, which means they protect against four different flu viruses: an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses.

Who should get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccinations for everyone age 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of influenza complications, including:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults (65 years and older)
  • Young children
  • People with a weakened immune system

When should you get the flu shot?

Flu season starts in October in the US, and the CDC says to try getting your flu vaccine by the end of October, in time for holiday travel. However, even if you miss that window, getting your vaccine anytime during the flu season can still be beneficial.

What are the benefits of flu vaccination?

There are many reasons to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against flu and its potentially serious complications. Since infants younger than six months cannot be vaccinated against the flu, it’s crucial that the people around them get the flu shot for the baby’s health, according to both the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Below is a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination and selected scientific studies that support these benefits.

  • Flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during  2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
  • During seasons when flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent.


Can you get the flu shot and covid-19 vaccine or booster vaccine at the same time?

Yes, Covid-19 vaccines and Covid-19 booster vaccines are safe to receive along with the flu vaccine, according to the CDC.