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.
Is There Any Chance There Will Be A Flu Shot Shortage This Year
Given COVID-19 and how important it is to make sure everyone is up to date on flu shots this year, health officials have been anticipating an increase in flu shots and preparing and manufacturing more to meet this standard, says Jabraan Pasha, MD.
That said, please dont wait until, like, January 31 to start thinking about getting a flu shot. Not only is it kinda selfish, but there are no guarantees youll still be able to get one. We hope will meet the increased demand we are expecting, says Dr. Pasha, adding, However, getting your vaccine early might be more important this year than previous years.
Also, bear in mind, herd immunity applies to flu shots as well, says Dr. Alam. The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who are not vaccinated are protected, in the case of a potential shortage. Its better that everyone gets flu shots now. Youre not doing anyone a favor if you wait until the last second.
All Right How Long Does The Flu Shot Last
The short answer: six months. But the long answer is a little bit more complicated, in part because every body is different. As a general rule the flu shot is most effective in the first three months, people still have protection after six months, Vanessa Raabe, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health, tells Health.
Knowing how long the flu shot lasts plays a pretty important part in determining when to get your flu shot each year. That part requires a little bit of math . Flu season, in general, lasts from October to May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . But flu season actually peaks sometime between December and March, Frank Esper, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic tells Health.
That means you should definitely get the flu shot before flu season peaks. You should get it “at least two weeksbut preferably four to have full immunity,” says Dr. Esper. You need a little preplanning time to get your shot, to have that shot develop its effectiveness, he adds. That means you should plan on getting a new flu shot in September or October, Dr. Esper says. The CDC also recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October.
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Flu Vaccine Side Effects
Flu vaccines are very safe. All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.
Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:
- slightly raised temperature
- muscle aches
- sore arm where the needle went in this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over
Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:
- continue to move your arm regularly
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it
Misconceptions About Flu Vaccines
Can a flu vaccine give you flu?
No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated so that they will not cause illness.
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over the others?
Yes, for some people. For the 2022-2023 flu season, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older. These are Fluzone High-DoseQuadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinantflu vaccine or Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. On June 22, 2022, CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to preferentially recommend these vaccines overstandard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines. This recommendation was based on a review of available studies which suggests that, in this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective than standard dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines. There is no preferential recommendation for people younger than 65 years.
What if a preferentially recommended flu vaccine is not available?
If none of the three preferentially recommended flu vaccines for people 65 and older is available at the time of administration, people in this age group should get any other age-appropriate flu vaccine instead.
Is it better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine?
Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?
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How Do Flu Vaccines Work
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with circulating influenza viruses.
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 virus, an influenza A virus, and two influenza B viruses.
Who Should Not Get A Flu Shot
While the flu shot is almost universally recommended, the CDC does identify a few groups of people who should not get a flu shot. It is not recommended for the following groups to get flu shots:
- Those under six months of age
- Those with severe allergies to gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients in the vaccine
There are some cases in which patients should consult their doctor before getting a flu shot:
- Those who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome
- Those with egg allergies
- Those who are currently sick
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Signs Of A More Serious Reaction
“A very small percentage of people can have a true allergic reaction to the vaccine, including chest tightness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, facial or throat swelling and redness of the eyes,” Teague says. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. Teague says severe allergic reactions usually happen within a few hours of getting the flu shot.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction, according to the CDC, can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling around the eyes or lips
- A fast heartbeat or dizziness
Another possible reaction is an infection where the shot was administered. “Patients can also develop an infection at the injection site, which is manifested as worsening redness, swelling, warmth and tenderness,” Teague says. You should also seek immediate medical attention for this type of reaction.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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Is The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Effective
So, historically speaking, the flu shot has been more effective in some flu seasons than the nasal spray version , says Dr. Iroku. Dont worry though: In cases when the nasal spray was less effective, those sprays are then recalled from the market, per CDC recommendation, Dr. Pasha explains.
However, these vaccines are repeatedly revised and reassessed by the CDC. And for this flu season, both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics endorse the flu shot and nasal spray vaccine, adds Dr. Iroku. However, he says, the nasal spray is still not recommended for all individuals and should not be used in adults 50 years or older, immunocompromised persons, pregnant women, and some other demographics.
Bottom line: Your doctor will know which is best for you.
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Do Flu Vaccines Cause Any Side Effects
Like any medical product, vaccines can cause side effects. Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Common side effects from the flu shot include:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
- Muscle aches
The flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting.
Some studies have found a possible small association of injectable flu vaccine with Guillain-Barré syndrome . Overall, these studies estimated the risk for GBS after vaccination as fewer than 1 or 2 cases of GBS per one million people vaccinated. Other studies have not found any association. GBS also, rarely, occurs after flu illness. Even though GBS following flu illness is rare, GBS is more common following flu illness than following flu vaccination. GBS has not been associated with the nasal spray vaccine.
How To Book Your Appointment
If you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine, you can book an appointment at your GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS.
You may also get an invitation to get the vaccine, but you do not have to wait for this before booking an appointment.
Everyone who is eligible for the free flu vaccine will be able to get it.
GP surgeries and pharmacies get the flu vaccine in batches. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book an appointment for when more vaccines are available.
If you have an appointment for a COVID-19 booster vaccine at a GP surgery or pharmacy, you may also be offered a flu vaccine at the same time.
Do not delay booking your flu vaccine appointment so that you can get both vaccines together. Only some people will be offered both vaccines at the same time.
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Where To Get The Influenza Vaccine
In Victoria the most common way people access the flu vaccine is from their doctor or a pharmacist immuniser . Some local council immunisation services also provide the flu vaccine as do some hospitals, maternity services and community health services.
Workplaces seeking to reduce the impact of flu infection on employees may also provide flu vaccination programs for their staff.
What Should I Know About The 2021
For starters, its important to know that its highly recommended that you get vaccinated against the flu even though last years flu season was mild, thanks, in large part, to many people masking, staying indoors, and taking other preventive measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
A minimal flu season last year doesnt mean were in the clear this year. In fact, weve already seen flu outbreaks this flu season, such as the massive outbreak at the University of Michigan campus. Dr. Agarwal says theres a possibility that outbreaks will continue throughout the flu season as people loosen up on illness-reducing behaviors like wearing face masks. And its important to remember that some people do end up with complications from the flu.
Flu viruses are always changing, so flu vaccine formulas are reviewed every year to best protect people against the viruses that are predicted to cause the most illness, according to the CDC. All of the vaccines available for the 2021-2022 flu season, whether theyre via nasal or needle administration, protect against the same four flu viruses circulating heavily right now.
According to the CDC, one vaccine isnt any better than the other, but if you have any questions about whether one might be best for you, then its always safest to talk to your doctor.
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Can The Flu Vaccine Make You Sick
Lets just clear this up now: You cant get the flu from the flu vaccine, Dr. Adalja says. Seriously, this is not a thing that is even remotely possible.
However, in very rare cases, a flu vaccine can cause issues in people with pre-existing medical circumstances. The flu vaccine is safe for most people, but if you have any allergies, like to egg proteins or any other ingredients that could be in the vaccine, such as gelatin, its important to speak with your doctor or pharmacist before getting inoculated. Those with an egg allergy can get the flu vaccine, but need to discuss with their doctor which specific vaccine is right for them, Dr. Agarwal says.
Overall, the CDC recommends speaking to a health care professional prior to getting a flu vaccine if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Youre allergic to eggs or any other potential vaccine ingredients, such as gelatin.
- Youve ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome .
- Youre not feeling well.
Misconceptions About The Timing Of Seasonal Influenza Vaccination
Should I wait to get vaccinated so that my immunity lasts through the end of the season?
How long you are immune or your duration of immunity is discussed in the ACIP recommendations. While delaying getting of vaccine until later in the fall may lead to higher levels of immunity during winter months, this should be balanced against possible risks, such as missed opportunities to receive vaccine and difficulties associated with vaccinating a large number of people within a shorter time period.
Is it too late to get vaccinated after Thanksgiving ?
No. Vaccination can still be beneficial as long as flu viruses are circulating. If you have not been vaccinated by Thanksgiving , it can still be protective to get vaccinated in December or later. Flu is unpredictable and seasons can vary. Seasonal flu disease usually peaks between December and March most years, but disease can occur as late as May.
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How Quickly Does The Covid
“The booster doesn’t work immediately,” Milstone stressed. While research is ongoing, early data suggests that immunity is boosted in one to two weeks. It’s very possible especially during the Thanksgiving and winter holiday season to get a booster and then get a COVID-19 infection or another seasonal illness quickly afterward.
So, if you feel feverish and achey for a day, that’s probably due to the booster. But if, two or three days after the vaccine, you still have those symptoms or you develop other signs of the infection such as a cough, “that would be a good reason to check in with your doctor and make sure that you don’t actually have COVID,” Milstone said.
To 48 Hours After Vaccination
Once these body-wide side effects set in, they can last for 12 hours or more. Experts say these side effects should all stop within 24 to 48 hours after your shot, though you may still have some slight fatigue or arm soreness after that.
Mullane says its best to avoid important events or take on key tasks the day after your vaccination if youre concerned about the side effects. That’s because your vaccine appointment and the window for peak symptoms aren’t likely to happen at the same time. Most side effects come later.
Its OK to take an anti-inflammatory medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen to relieve any symptoms. But Mullane says not to take it before the shot, as it can interfere with your immune response.
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How To Treat Flu Shot Side Effects
Tylenol Tylenol Rapid Release Gels
Usually, any side effects you might get from the flu vaccine go away on their own within a day or twobut you dont have to tough it out if you really feel run down. Try these self-care measures to feel better ASAP:
For muscle aches, headache, or flu-like symptoms, take a pain reliever, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.
For arm pain after the flu shot, apply a cool compress.
The same goes for side effects of the nasal flu vaccine. Treatment is based on a persons symptoms, Dr. Kemmerly says. All in all, minor aches are a small price to pay for the vast protection the flu vaccine provides for both you and those around you.
Are Flu Shots Safe
Flu shots hold an excellent safety record, according to the CDC. For more than the past 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu shots. Flu shots come with minimal risks and help ward off the virus both to protect yourself and the people around you. It is the single best way to avoid catching the flu and spreading it along to others.
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Can I Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
No, the flu vaccine cannot cause flu. The vaccines either contain inactivated virus, meaning the viruses are no longer infectious, or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system. While the nasal spray flu vaccine does contain a live virus, the viruses are changed so that they cannot give you the flu.