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Flu vaccine

Learn about flu vaccine safety. View vaccination options for healthy adults and high-risk groups, such as seniors and pregnant people.

Flu vaccines

Just about everyone! Nearly everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccination every year, with rare exception. People with egg allergies can get flu vaccinations too – no extra precautions are needed.

All flu vaccines in the US are quadrivalent. That means they protect against 4 different strains of the flu. Vaccine options include:

  • Standard-dose flu shot. Recommended for people ages 6 months and older. There are many different brand options.
  • Flu nasal spray vaccine (brand name FluMist). Approved for people ages 2 through 49 who don’t want to get a flu shot. FluMist is not recommended for pregnant people, immunocompromised people, or people with certain medical conditions.
  • Vaccines for people 65 years and older. Older adults may not get as much protection from a standard flu shot. They are also at higher risk for developing serious complications. Special vaccines are recommended for people in this age group:
  • Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine
  • Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine
  • Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine

Learn more about different flu vaccine options.

Is it safe to get a flu vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes! It is safe to get the flu vaccine at the same time as other vaccinations, like COVID-19 vaccine. This can save you time and money.

It’s important to get a flu vaccine every year for two reasons:

  1. The immunity (protection) you get from flu vaccination decreases over time. That means the flu shot you got last flu season isn’t going to offer you much protection during this flu season.
  2. There are lots of different strains of flu, and they’re all constantly changing. Each year, scientists try to design vaccines that match the circulating strains. When you get vaccinated every year, you’re giving yourself the best protection from the flu viruses circulating in the community.

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

Rest assured; the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. But there are lots of good reasons you might mistakenly think that happened:

  • It takes about two weeks to fully build immunity after vaccination. It’s possible that you were exposed to the flu a few days before or a few days after getting vaccinated.
  • You might have a different infection, like COVID, RSV, or even a common cold.
  • It’s possible to get vaccinated but still get the flu. The protection provided by flu vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on the age and health of the person getting the vaccine. It also depends on the similarity or “match” between the vaccine and the viruses spreading in the community. Even if you do catch the flu after vaccination, you are much less likely to have severe complications, be hospitalized, or die.

High-risk groups

Is it safe to get a flu shot while pregnant?

Yes, flu vaccination is both safe and highly recommended during pregnancy. Flu vaccine has been safely given to millions of pregnant people for many decades. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that pregnant people get flu vaccine during any trimester of their pregnancy.

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Why is it important to get a flu shot while pregnant?

Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy put pregnant people at greater risk of severe disease. But getting a flu shot can cut a pregnant person's risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40%. Plus, when a pregnant person gets a flu shot, they help protect their baby for the first several months after birth, when the baby is too young to get vaccinated.

Why is flu vaccination important for older adults?

As a person gets older, their immune system may have a harder time fighting off infections. That’s why the flu can be especially dangerous for older adults. The CDC estimates that 70 to 85% of flu-related deaths happen in people age 65 and older. The majority of flu-related hospitalizations are in this age group too.

Special flu vaccines are recommended for adults age 65 and older

Older adults may not develop as much immunity (protection) from a standard flu vaccine. That’s why the CDC recommends high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccines for people age 65 and older. These vaccines are potentially more effective.

If none of these options are available, people in this high-risk group should get a standard dose flu vaccine instead.

Learn more about the Flu & People 65 Years and Older

People with chronic health conditions

People with certain health conditions, like heart disease, asthma, and diabetes are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu.

Learn more about these additional risks and the importance of the flu vaccine