You Can Fight the Flu This Fall

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every flu season with rare exceptions, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

"The flu shot should be an expectation and not just a recommendation," said Dr. Andrea Gelzer, Chief Medical Officer of AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in health care solutions for those in need. "Just like we apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn, the flu shot is our best defense against the flu virus."

Here are some common questions about the flu shot.

When should I get the flu shot?

September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October, but flu activity typically peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May.

Can I get sick from the flu shot?

No. You cannot catch the flu from the flu shot. The shot may be made up from a part of the flu virus that has been killed and cannot infect you, or it may not contain any part of the virus. The shot is safe for adults and children over six months of age.

How often do I need a flu shot?

You should get a flu shot every year. Each year, different strains of the flu are more common. The shot is updated every year to protect against the most common versions of the flu for that season.

Who should get a flu shot?

Most people should get the flu shot. For some people, it is especially important. People who are at high risk or have certain health problems need to get a flu shot each year.

People at high risk for the flu include: 

  • Pregnant women.
  • Children younger than two years of age.
  • Adults over age 65.
  • Adults and children with conditions that could cause breathing problems.
  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
  • Caregivers of high-risk children who are less than 6 months of age. (Children younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu shot.)

Adults and children who have the following health problems should also get a flu shot:

  • Long-term lung problems or problems that make it harder to breathe.
  • Asthma.
  • Heart problems (except high blood pressure).
  • Kidney disease.
  • Liver, blood, or metabolic problems.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Diabetes. 
  • Severe obesity.
  • Any adult or child who has a medical condition that makes it hard for their body to fight off illness. Two examples of these medical conditions are HIV and cancer. Some medicines given to treat cancers can make it harder to fight off illness.

If you are not sure if you should have the flu shot, ask your health care provider.

For more information

You can get a flu shot from your primary care provider (PCP) or your pharmacy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020 - 2021 Season," last reviewed September 20, 2021,