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Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions. It's especially important for the following people:

  • 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

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:

  • Stay home from work and school if you are sick until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Be sure to get tested for COVID-19 before interacting with others.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
  • When with people outside your household, wear a snug-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth, especially when you’re sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching these areas spreads germs.
  • Get plenty of rest.

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.