General flu information and educational materials
- Essential workers: Including healthcare personnel (including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff) and other critical infrastructure workforce
- Anyone at increased risk for severe illness and hospitalization from flu: Including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 years and older, and other people with certain underlying medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease)
- Anyone at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Anyone who cares for infants under 6 months of age because they are too young to get the vaccine
You can safely get a flu vaccine now from a doctor's office, community health center, drive-thru clinic, or pharmacy. Visit vaccines.gov to find a flu clinic location near you.They are taking extra steps to protect clients from COVID-19. When going to get a flu vaccine, be sure to protect yourself by maintaining social distance, wearing a mask, and washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.
October is a good time to get vaccinated. Flu activity generally picks up in the fall and it's best to get the vaccine before the virus starts spreading in your community. However, the flu season can last well in to the spring. So, even if you don't get vaccinated until December or later, it is still helpful.
Flu shots (given by a needle) are made either with inactivated (killed) viruses that are not infectious or with just a certain protein from flu viruses, so they cannot cause the flu. The nasal spray version of the flu vaccine is made with live viruses that are significantly weakened that cannot cause illness either.
After getting a flu vaccine, the most common side effects occur at the site of the shot, including soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling. Occasionally people have side effects, such as fever, headache, and muscle aches, that last a day or two. This happens as the vaccine prompts your body to build up protection against the flu virus. It may seem like a mild version of the flu, but it’s not the same as getting the flu, which is much more severe, lasts much longer, and is contagious.
You can prevent the spread of both flu and COVID-19 when you:
- decrease activities outside the home,
- avoid close contact with anyone who is sick and stay away from others if you are sick,
- wear face coverings whenever in public or cannot maintain social distancing,
- wash your hands frequently, and
- stay at least six feet away from people who don’t live with you.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and haven't had your flu vaccination, wait to get vaccinated until after your isolation period when you are no longer contagious. Having a COVID-19 infection itself does not mean you cannot get a flu vaccine, but it's better to avoid exposing healthcare workers and other patients needlessly while you are contagious. Note: COVID-19 patients who are already in the hospital may receive a flu vaccination.
- Why flu vaccine is more important during COVID-19, Public Health Insider blog
- Influenza page (includes surveillance reports from King County)
- FAQs for the 2021-22 flu season, CDC
- The difference between cold and flu symptoms, CDC
- The difference between flu and COVID-19, CDC
- How to care for someone with influenza