Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccine also has been shown to be life-saving in children.
The flu vaccine protects against several different flu viruses (strains). Flu vaccines are updated every year to
better match the viruses circulating in the public. Getting the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu! The vaccine is made with inactive (killed) virus strains which are not infectious.
Who Should Get Vaccinated this Season?
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu–related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu–related complications
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- 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:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Medications are available by prescription for the prevention (usually in the event of an outbreak) and treatment (within 2 days of onset of symptoms) of the flu in individuals 1 year of age and older. Your doctor will help decide whether you should get antivirals and which one you should get.
Good Health Habits
Vaccination is Not the Only Way to Help Prevent the Flu
These simple actions can stop the spread of germs and help protect you from getting sick:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Other good habits, such as getting plenty of sleep, engaging in physical activity, managing stress, drinking water, and eating good food, will help you stay healthy in the winter and all year.