Can I Get The Flu Shot If I’m Pregnant
Yes, yes, yes. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester. Pregnant women can pass the antibodies to the baby, so they are protected for the first 6 months of life, when they are too young to get a flu vaccine.
Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable, even if they are healthy. Pregnancy affects the immune system and decreases lung volume, so its harder to clear a respiratory infection. Pregnant women who get the flu generally do very poorly, Dr. Laura Riley, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine, said at the CDC-NFID conference.
When pregnant women get the flu, it can also harm the pregnancy and increase the risk of birth defects and premature delivery, Riley said. Last year about 49% of pregnant women got the flu vaccine it really should be 80-plus percent. … We really need to do a much better job, Riley said.
When Should I Get The Flu Shot
If you’re reading this in September or October, terrific: experts say this is the perfect time to get a flu shot, and everyone should aim to be vaccinated by the end of October. That time frame allows the body to mount enough protection against the virus before flu season becomes active. It also ensures lasting protection throughout the most active parts of the flu season. “It takes around two weeks after vaccination for enough antibodies to form and to achieve full immunity,” epidemiologist Supriya Narasimhan, MD, chief of the infectious disease department at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in California, previously told Health.
But if you’re reading this in November or even December or January, it’s not too late, says the CDC. Flu activity in the US usually starts in October and peaks between December and February but can sometimes continue into May, the agency notes. Don’t skip the vaccine this year just because October has come and gone.
Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
Everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated for flu. It is especially important that the people in one of the groups listed below get a flu shot every year as they are more likely to get severely ill with flu.
- Children aged 6 months through 18 years
- People 50 years of age and older
- Pregnant and postpartum women
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, neurologic and neuromuscular conditions and weakened immune systems
- People with muscle and nerve disorders that make it difficult to breath or swallow
- Children aged 6 months through 18 years on long-term aspirin therapy
- People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities
- Anyone who might transmit flu to someone at risk. For example, health care workers, including those in training, emergency response workers, direct care staff, people who live with or care for anyone on the list above, and people who live with or care for infants under 6 months of age, including parents, siblings, and daycare providers
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Are You Contagious After A Flu Shot If You Experience Side Effects
The mild symptoms you might experience after getting vaccinated are an immune response, not the signs of an illness. Thats because even though the flu vaccine contains inactive virus, your immune system still recognizes it as an intruder and creates antibodies. This antibody creation is what can spur side effects, as well as get your body ready for a possible exposure to an active virus.
Everyone 6 Months And Older Should Get The Flu Shot
The flu shot is your best defence against the flu. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
It can save lives by:
- protecting you, if you’re exposed to the virus
- preventing you from getting very sick
- protecting people close to you:
- because you’re less likely to spread the virus
- who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu
The flu shot wont protect you against COVID-19.
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Myth #: Flu Shots Dont Work
Fact: The flu vaccine can significantly reduce your risk of catching the flu.
In previous years, when the vaccine matched circulating strains, the CDC reports that getting vaccinated reduced the chance of catching the flu by up to 60%.
Flu vaccination also significantly reduces the risk of flu-related hospitalization for the elderly, working age adults, and especially among children. A 2014 study showed that the flu vaccine reduced childrens risks of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admissions by 74%. And the vaccine could even be a life-saver a 2017 study showed that flu vaccinations reduce a childs risks of dying from the flu.
Flu shots are important for pregnant women, too. Since pregnancy affects your immune system, it can make you more susceptible to the flu. Getting a flu shot while youre pregnant is safe for both mom and baby. Plus, it can help protect the baby after theyre born until they can have their first flu shot.
When more people choose to vaccinate, doctors and CDC researchers are better equipped to pinpoint flu strains, keep rates of hospitalization down, and keep you and your family protected. Also, the science of vaccinations improves every year, and so do your odds of staying healthy with a flu shot.
When The Flu Vaccine Starts Working
Once you receive your flu shot, it takes 2 weeks for your body to develop antibodies that provide protection.
Its important to remember that during this period, youre still vulnerable to becoming ill with the flu.
During that time, you should be extra careful to:
- practice good hygiene
- avoid touching your nose or mouth whenever possible
- avoid crowds if flu is circulating in your community
These precautions are exponentially more important while COVID-19 is still a factor. You can develop the flu along with other respiratory infections, so protecting yourself and others is important.
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How Long The Flu Shot Lasts
Your bodys immunity to the flu decreases over time. This is true whether youve had a vaccination or a flu infection.
Additionally, influenza viruses are constantly changing. Because of this, a vaccine from the previous flu season may not protect you through an upcoming flu season.
Generally speaking, receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine should help to protect you for the duration of the current flu season.
Youll need to receive a seasonal influenza vaccine every year in order to have the best protection against influenza viruses.
The flu vaccine is produced by a number of private manufacturers and typically begins to ship to healthcare providers in August. However, theres some evidence that it may not be advantageous to receive your vaccine this early.
A indicated that maximum immunity is achieved shortly following vaccination and decreases with each passing month. Therefore, if you get your vaccine in August, you may be more susceptible to infection late in the flu season, around February or March.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the flu vaccine before influenza activity begins to pick up within your community, ideally by the end of October.
If you receive your vaccine later, dont worry. Late vaccination can still provide adequate protection, as influenza can circulate within your community through March or even later.
Side effects from the flu shot are typically mild and only last a few days.
Flu vaccine side effects can include:
People At High Risk Of Complications From The Flu
- people with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
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Can I Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made with either a killed flu virus and are therefore not infectious, or with proteins from a flu virus instead of a flu vaccine virus. Nasal spray flu vaccine is made with weakened live flu viruses, and also cannot cause flu illness.
Some people may get mild and short-lasting symptoms, such as a low-grade fever or muscle-aches, but this is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine. It is not the flu.
Is There Anyone Who Should Not Get A Flu Vaccine
Children less than 6 months of age are too young to receive flu vaccine, which is why it’s especially important everyone who comes into contact with young infants receives flu vaccine themselves. Also, if someone has had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of flu vaccine or to one of the vaccine components*, they should not receive flu vaccine. Ask your healthcare provider which flu vaccine is right for you and your child.
*Note: persons who are allergic to eggs are still recommended to receive flu vaccine.
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Find A Flu Shot Location Near You
If you have a UnitedHealthcare health plan, you can get a flu shot at more than 50,000 locations.
Enter your ZIP code and select a pharmacy in your area, then select Find my flu shot to see results within a 20-mile radius from the center of your ZIP code.
Please note: If you’re using a screen reader, please select Participating pharmacies, then select a pharmacy to find a location near you.
Are Flu Vaccines Safe
Yes. Flu vaccines have been used for over 50 years and have been safely given to hundreds of millions of people, including pregnant people. Flu vaccines, like all vaccines used in the U.S., are carefully monitored for safety through the U.S. vaccine monitoring systems .
Find answers to more questions about vaccine safety.
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Where Do I Get The Shot And How Much Will It Cost Me
You can get a flu shot at your doctors office, pharmacy, certain supermarkets, college health centers, and local or state health departments. Use the CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder to find a location near you. If you need a specific type of vaccine, call ahead to make sure that location has it in stock.
In many cases the flu vaccine is free, but it depends on your insurance coverage, age, and other factors. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans are required to cover the flu shot with no copay but check with your insurance beforehand, because some plans only cover the shot if you get it at a certain location.
Military insurance covers vaccines for members and their dependents. Medicare covers one flu shot each season, and Medicaid covers flu shots for children and some adults contact your states Medicaid office to find out if youre covered.
If you dont have insurance and cant afford the out-of-pocket cost , there are still ways to get the shot for free or low-cost. The Vaccines for Children Program covers vaccines for children under 19. Many pharmacies offer coupons just check their website or call and ask. Finally, your state health department can help you find out where to get a free or low-cost flu shot.
Who Should Not Receive A Flu Shot:
Most people should be vaccinated for influenza each year, But some people should not be vaccinated, or should not receive some types of influenza vaccines, depending upon things such as their age, health and whether they have certain allergies.
Information about who cannot get a flu vaccine and who should talk to their doctor before getting a flu vaccine is available at Who Should & Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated.
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Be A Flu Fighter By Getting Your Annual Flu Shot
There are a lot of reasons to get a flu shot. Its fast. Its easy. Its almost always free. But maybe one of the most important reasons is that it can significantly reduce your risk of getting the flu and passing it to others. And this helps you, your family and community stay healthy, happy and productive.
How The Influenza Virus Mutates
The flu viruss genetic material, called RNA, is similar to DNA but with one crucial difference. RNA viruses dont have proofreading capacity, Dr. Karron said.
If for some reason the machinery that puts in the building blocks is wrong in DNA and it doesnt match, it has to be fixed, Dr. Karron said. But RNA has only one strand.
In RNA, if theres a mistake, it doesnt have to be corrected to survive, Dr. Karron said. The viruses play this roulette. Its not that they know which changes will outwit the human immune system, but theyre replicating very rapidly.
So rapidly that lots of mistakes mutations occur. Hijacked cells release new viruses after just six hours.
If theres a change in one of those viruses that the human immune system doesnt recognize so well, that gives that virus an advantage, Dr. Karron said. Those changes often happen in two proteins, called hemagglutinin and neuraminidase , the H and the N in flu names like H1N1. These proteins are also the parts of the flu virus that the immune system recognizes the trench coats so viruses with a slightly different HA or NA can escape the immune systems attention.
Its evolution at work: Tiny mutations help the virus evade detection, and as it evades detection, its more successful at multiplying.
Why Do Some People Not Feel Well Or Feel Like They Have Flu Symptoms After Getting A Flu Vaccine
While a flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, there may be times when you dont feel well after getting your flu vaccine. Heres why:
- You may get some mild and temporary side effects after your flu vaccine, such as soreness or redness where you got your shot, muscle aches, headache or a low fever. These common side effects usually begin soon after you get the vaccine and last 1-2 days. These reactions are a sign that your immune system is working and that your body is building protection against flu.
- You could become sick from other respiratory viruses that are spreading during flu season. A flu vaccine only protects you from the flu, not other illnesses like COVID-19 or the common cold.
- You could encounter flu viruses, which cause the flu, shortly before getting your flu vaccine or during the 2 weeks after getting the vaccine when your body is still building immunity. As a result, you could get the flu before the vaccine has the chance to protect you.
- You could experience flu-like symptoms, even after getting vaccinated, because you were exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses that the vaccine is designed to protect against. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people. However, even when the circulating flu viruses are not a perfect match to the strains in the flu vaccine, getting a flu vaccine should still help protect you against serious flu illness and its complications.
Who Should Not Get The Flu Shot
Very few children should NOT get a flu shot:
- Babies under 6 months of age. Although the vaccine is not harmful to babies less than 6 months old, it does not work.
- If your child has a serious allergy to thimerosal , a thimerosal-free vaccine should be given.
The influenza vaccine is safe for individuals with an egg allergy.
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When Should You Get Your Flu Shot
Its generally recommended that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, according to the CDC. This is especially important because of the ongoing spread of COVID-19. The flu season can last until March or April, so you can still get the flu vaccine later. No matter when you get your flu shot, it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season. Talk to your provider about the best time to get your flu shot. Remember to ask about other vaccines you might need to protect yourself this year too.
Can I Get Seasonal Flu Even Though I Got A Flu Vaccine This Year
Yes. Its possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated . This is possible for the following reasons:
You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you.
You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. The protection provided by the flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on the health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.