Everything You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine. It's been around for years (it was specifically approved for civilian use in 1946). It's likely you've already had the flu vaccine multiple times. But just in case, we're here to tell you everything you need to know about it. 
A nurse holds a vaccine in a shot

How Does it Work? 

There are two ways to receive the flu vaccine. Either through a shot or a nasal spray. The shot uses either a single protein of the virus or inactive version of the virus and the nasal spray uses a weakened version of the virus. By doing this, your body builds up antibodies within 2 weeks of getting the vaccine. These antibodies then provide protection from the virus itself. 

Can I Still Get the Flu Even if I Get the Vaccine?

First, many think that since parts of the virus are used to make the vaccine, the vaccine itself can give them the flu. The CDC has said that this is not true, the vaccine cannot give you the flu. 

The flu vaccine can be more or less effective depending on a few factors, according to the CDC. Often a person's health can determine the effectiveness and the strains of the virus that are circulating that year. Sometimes the vaccine doesn't match up exactly with the current strains and thus is less effective for some people. 

Researchers every year take time to test and determine which version of the flu vaccine will be most effective for that year and the strains they are seeing. 

Should Children Get the Flu Vaccine? 

Children are more at risk for contracting the flu and experiencing serious effects from the flu than most other age groups. Every year, millions of children contract the flu and thousands of those children are hospitalized. Children under 5 years old are more likely to experience serious complications such as:

  • dehydration
  • brain dysfunction
  • ear infections
  • sinus infections
  • worsening of heart disease or asthma
  • pneumonia 
  • death

The CDC has a great list of reasons why your children need the flu vaccine if you need more convincing. 

When Should I Get the Vaccine?

Doctors recommend everyone should get a flu vaccine once a year. Children should be vaccinated yearly starting at 6 months old. Typically, the best time to get a vaccine is by the end of October though you can still get your vaccine after that, but try to not go past January as often the flu vaccine isn't offered much longer than January. 

Vaccine in a shot

Where Can I Get the Vaccine? 

Most pharmacies (like Walgreens) offer flu vaccines. If you are unsure where you can get a vaccine, check out this website that helps find locations near you

Your Safety Matters

There is a lot of information out there regarding vaccines, but we wanted to reiterate that the flu vaccine is safe. For more than 50 years the vaccine has been safely taken by millions of people. And in those years, lots of research has been done that has proven the safety of the vaccine. 

For more information about the flu, check out our Flu 101 blog