Preventing Flu

Make sure you are protecting yourself and others from the flu by practicing good health habits and getting your annual vaccination.

Flu season happens every year. It starts in the fall and continues into the spring. Although most people with influenza will recover without additional medical issues, influenza can cause serious illness and death, particularly among older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and those with certain chronic medical conditions.

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Stay Healthy This Season: Get Your Flu Shot

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Influenza is a potentially serious and highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect anyone, however, people with lung disease including asthma and COPD are at higher risk of severe flu illness and complications. During the last flu season, about 30% of flu related hospitalizations were among adults with chronic lung disease.

Protect yourself, your loved ones and your community by getting the best available flu protection, a flu shot.

Get a Flu Vaccine Every Year

The best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing. Each year, scientists work together to identify the virus strains that they believe will cause the most illness, and a new vaccine is made based on their recommendations.

  • It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months receive an annual influenza vaccine.
  • Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Discuss this with your child's healthcare provider.
  • Children younger than 6 months of age are at higher risk of serious flu complications but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you and others in your family should get vaccinated to help protect them from the flu.
  • The best time to get the flu vaccine is before flu starts circulating in your community in September or October. However, later vaccination can still be beneficial.
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How much do you know about the flu shot?

Influenza or flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. One way to prevent influenza is by getting your flu shot. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older and should be received every year.

It is better to get the flu than to get a flu shot.

False

(You answered: )

Anyone can get seriously ill from flu however some people are at higher risk for flu complications. Young children, older adults and people with chronic medical conditions such as chronic lung disease, heart disease and diabetes may be at higher risk for severe flu illness.

Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you.

True

(You answered: )

When you get your flu shot, you may help stop the spread of disease and protect those more vulnerable to serious flu illness, including babies under six months of age who cannot receive a flu shot.

You cannot get a flu shot in December

Please indicate vaccination status.

False.

(You answered: )

While it is recommended that you receive your vaccination in September or October, later vaccination can still be beneficial. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks between December and March.

There are specific flu vaccines for people 65 and older.

Please indicate vaccination status.

True

(You answered: )

There are three flu vaccines that are recommended for people 65 years and older. These include:

  • Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent
  • Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant
  • Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted

You can get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time.

Please indicate vaccination status.

True.

(You answered: )

You can receive your COVID-19 vaccination with other routinely recommended vaccines including the flu shot.

If you have an egg allergy, you cannot get the flu shot.

Please indicate vaccination status.

False

(You answered: )

People with egg allergies can receive any recommended flu vaccine that is appropriate for them. People with a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting and supervised by a health care provider. There are also egg-free flu vaccine options available.

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The Flu Shot

Flu shots are injectable influenza vaccines given with a needle (usually in your arm). They work by helping our bodies produce antibodies that provide protection against infection with the virus strains in the vaccine. The amount of antibodies in the body is the greatest one to two months after vaccination and then gradually declines. After receiving the flu shot it usually takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity to influenza. Important things to know about the flu shot:

  • The flu shot is safe for people with asthma.
  • The flu shot is covered by Medicare and other health insurance including Medicaid and private health insurance plans.
  • Most people experience little or no reaction to the flu shot. The most common side effect is a swollen, red, tender area where the vaccination is given.
  • You cannot get the flu from the flu shot as it is made from either inactivated (killed) viruses or parts of the virus.
  • People with a history of egg allergy can receive a flu shot.

Flu Shot Types

All flu vaccines currently available are quadrivalent vaccines. This means that they protect you against the four most common flu virus strains that are predicted to be circulating—two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.

Available flu vaccines include:

  • Standard dose flu shots that are made using virus grown in eggs.
  • Cell-based flu shots that contain virus made in cell culture and is completely egg-free.
  • Recombinant flu shots are egg-free and are made without flu viruses and contain three times the antigen (this helps your body build protection against flu viruses) than other standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines.
  • Nasal spray flu shots are egg-based and made with live weakened flu viruses. This is approved for people 2 through 49 years. It is not recommended for high-risk groups, such as people with asthma and COPD, those who are pregnant, or those with immunocompromising conditions.

During the 2022-23 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a preferential recommendation for certain flu vaccines in adults 65 or older. These flu vaccines are potentially more effective in older adults than the standard dose flu vaccines.

  • Adults 65 or older should get a higher dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine, including:
    • Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent- this vaccine is egg-based and contains four times the antigen than standard-dose flu vaccines to help create a stronger immune response. It is only approved for people 65+.
    • Flublok Quadrivalent- this is a recombinant vaccine and available for ages 18+.
    • Fluad Quadrivalent- this vaccine is egg-based and made with an adjuvant. An adjuvant is an ingredient that helps build a stronger immune response. It is only approved for people 65+.
  • If you are eligible and one of these preferentially recommended vaccines aren’t available, you should get a standard dose flu vaccine.

For more information about flu vaccine types visit the CDC website.

Practice Good Health Habits

  • Wash your hands often. The most common way to catch the flu is to touch your own eyes, nose or mouth with germy hands. So keep your hands clean, and away from your face. Wash hands with soap and warm water for 30 seconds, or about the amount of time it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Also carry hand sanitizer.
  • Keep your distance when you are sick or if you are around someone else who is sick.
  • Keep it to yourself. One gift you can give others is to help prevent other people from catching your flu. You should stay home from work, school and public places when you are sick (keep in mind you can still spread germs up to 7 days after getting sick). Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, but never your hand. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

Remember, getting an influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu.

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Vaccines Prevent Respiratory Diseases

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Influenza is a potentially serious and highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect anyone, however, people with lung disease including asthma and COPD are at higher risk of severe flu illness and complications. During the last flu season, about 30% of flu related hospitalizations were among adults with chronic lung disease.

Protect yourself, your loved ones and your community by getting the best available flu protection, a flu shot.

Flu Education Materials

Free to download, print, share and post in your community, healthcare office and office workspace.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: November 17, 2022

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