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Take a shot at beating the flu

Find out if you need a flu shot, how often you need it and the best time to get it.

It's that time of year again. Time to break out the hats and mittens—and time for flu season. This year, take one extra step to stay healthy: Talk to your doctor about getting a seasonal flu vaccine.

Who needs it?

The flu is unpleasant for anyone who gets it. So a flu vaccine is a good idea for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people ages 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for serious flu complications. This includes:

  • Young children.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease.
  • People 65 years and older.

Vaccination is also important for people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for serious flu complications.

If you have questions about whether or not to get a flu shot, talk to your doctor.

Getting the flu shot is not a guarantee that you will not get the flu. However, if you do get the flu, the illness will probably be far less severe if you've been vaccinated.


The flu vaccine is safe for just about everyone. Because the vaccine is made with killed viruses, you won't get the flu from a flu shot. You may experience side effects, however, such as:

  • Soreness where you received the shot.
  • Fever.
  • Tiredness.
  • Sore muscles.

Any side effects will be mild and will probably last just one or two days.

Also, since eggs are used to produce most flu vaccines, people with allergic reactions to eggs—other than hives—should talk to their doctor before getting a flu shot. 

When to get the shot

You will need to get the flu shot every year. That is because the viruses that cause the flu are constantly changing. The virus that is spreading this year may not have been targeted by last year's vaccine.

reviewed 11/22/2016

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This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.