Who needs a flu shot?
As many as 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for complications related to the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because of this, the CDC recommends a seasonal flu shot for all individuals aged 6 months and older.
However, due to the higher risk of complications from the flu, adults aged 65 years or older, and those with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes especially should receive a flu shot.
Flu shots prevent complications
Vaccination with a seasonal flu shot can help prevent complications associated with the flu, which include:
Lung infections, including pneumonia
Heart or brain inflammation
Because the flu virus is highly contagious, getting a vaccination may help keep the virus from spreading to others you may come in contact with.
How do flu shots work?
Once you receive your flu shot, your body starts to develop antibodies that protect against infection from the flu viruses used to create the vaccine. This process takes about two weeks, meaning it will be about two weeks before the flu shot becomes fully effective. Because of this, health experts recommend getting a flu shot as soon as possible, starting in October, before the flu season starts.
Are there side effects to a flu shot?
Like any other medication, there may be side effects with a flu shot. The most common side effects include:
Soreness or tenderness where you received the shot
Redness or swelling at the injection spot
Occasionally you may experience low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches
Although there is a risk of severe reactions, these are very rare. When you go to receive your flu shot, be sure to tell your doctor or nurse if you have a history of allergy or severe reaction to a flu vaccine.