Why get vaccinated?
Influenza (“flu”) is a contagious disease. Each year many people die from influenza and even more require hospitalization. By getting flu vaccine you can protect yourself from influenza and may also avoid spreading influenza to others. The most effective way to prevent influenza is by getting the influenza vaccine (the flu shot) and using simple infection control measures such as hand washing. People who receive the flu shot have a lower chance of disease and death from influenza compared to people who are not vaccinated.
Influenza viruses are always changing (mutating), therefore annual vaccination is recommended. Every year, scientists match the flu viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu that year. Flu vaccine will not prevent diseases caused by other viruses, including flu viruses not contained in the vaccine.
Who should get the flu shot?
All people 6 months of age and older should receive flu vaccine. Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of severe influenza and their close contacts, including healthcare personnel and close contacts of children younger than 6 months.
People at higher risk of severe influenza include:
- Young children.
- People 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People with certain health conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system.
When to get the Flu shot?
Influenza can occur at any time, but the flu season mostly occurs between October and May. Get the flu shot as soon as it is available to get the most benefit. This should provide protection if the flu season comes early.
How long does protection last after the flu shot?
It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot. Protection usually lasts about a year.