Fight the flu with the flu vaccine

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious complications, hospitalization or even death. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to friends and loved ones. 

Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself, your family and others, and it’s more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu may look similar. 

Frequently asked questions

Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine? 

No. The viruses in the flu vaccine are killed (inactivated), so they cannot cause infection and you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. 

What are the side effects that could occur? 
  • Soreness, redness, or swelling at the vaccination site 
  • Fever (low grade) 
  • Aches 
  • Toughness and itching at the vaccination site 

These side effects are caused by the person’s immune system making protective antibodies to the killed virus in the vaccine. These antibodies are what allow the body to fight against flu. If these side effects occur, they usually last one to two days. Soreness can usually be relieved by taking a dose of an anti-inflammatory drug, such as Motrin or Aleve, shortly after receiving the vaccine and a second dose the next morning, if needed. If a side effect persists more than two days, please report it to your primary care provider. 

What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu-like symptoms? 

There are several reasons why someone might get flu-like symptoms after they have been vaccinated against the flu. 

  • A person may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two weeks that it takes to gain immunity after getting vaccinated. 
  • A person may become ill from other (non-flu) viruses that circulate during the flu season, which can also cause flu-like symptoms (such as adenovirus or coronavirus). 
  • A person may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different influenza viruses that circulate every year. 
Who should get the flu vaccine? 

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone age six months or older. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of influenza complications, including: 

  • Pregnant women 
  • Older adults 
  • Young children 

Chronic medical conditions can also increase your risk of influenza complications. Examples include asthma, cerebral palsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, HIV-AIDS, kidney or liver disease, muscular dystrophy, obesity and sickle cell disease.

Who shouldn't get the flu shot? 

If you’ve ever had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction or Guillain-Barre’ syndrome, you should talk to your primary care provider about whether or not you should get the flu vaccine. 

There may be situations in which it would be better to wait a few days to receive your flu vaccine, such as if you have a fever. If you have questions or concerns about getting the vaccine, ask your primary care provider. 

Will a flu vaccination prevent COVID-19? 

No, but receiving a flu vaccine provides many benefits, including a reduced risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Through flu vaccination, you can help to ensure you are in good health during the COVID pandemic and flu season. 

Why is flu vaccination important during the COVID pandemic? Routine vaccinations protect people and communities from vaccine-preventable illnesses and outbreaks. Reducing the risk of flu will be of great importance, because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses in our communities and the burden on the healthcare system during the COVID pandemic.

Given the risk of COVID, where can I go to get my flu vaccination safely? 

Parkview offers many safe and convenient opportunities for you to receive a flu shot, including on-site flu vaccination clinics. These opportunities have been modified to provide social distancing and preserve safety. Learn more about the safety measures that have been implemented throughout our hospitals and PPG clinics. 

Is the flu vaccine safe for pregnant or nursing mothers? 

The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women during any trimester. Flu vaccination is especially important for pregnant women because they are at high risk for complications if they get the flu, and vaccination provides protection for their unborn baby. Nursing mothers can receive the flu vaccine. 

Should someone with a latex allergy receive the flu vaccine? 

Yes. The influenza vaccine syringes are latex free. 

Are there unsafe ingredients, such as the preservative thimerosal? 

Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that is added to multi-dose vials of vaccine to prevent contamination and growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Pre-filled, single-dose syringes of vaccine given at Parkview do NOT have thimerosal in them. 

Does getting a flu vaccine early in the season mean that I will not be protected later in the season? 

Flu vaccination provides protection against the influenza strains contained in the vaccine that will last for the whole season. Vaccination can begin as soon as vaccine is available. 

Why do I need to get vaccinated every year? 

New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses. Because flu viruses change so quickly, last year's vaccine may not protect you from this year's viruses. 

Does the flu vaccine work the same for everyone? 
  • The flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu, and vaccination is the main tool used to protect people from influenza. The ability of the flu vaccine to protect a person depends on at least two things: 1) the age and health of the person getting the vaccine, and 2) the similarity or “match” between the virus strains in the vaccine and those being spread in the community. 
  • Vaccine effectiveness is not 100%, and some people can still get the flu. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses might develop less immunity after vaccination than healthy young adults. Even for these high-risk individuals, partial immunity from the flu vaccine still can provide protection against severe complications and/or hospitalization from the flu. 
What if I am allergic to eggs? 

An egg-free vaccine is available for those allergic to eggs. Be sure to ask when you go for your vaccination.