Preventing Flu

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

Flu viruses circulate all year however, flu activity starts to increase in the fall and continues through the spring in a typical flu season. During most flu seasons, peak flu activity happens between December and February. Although most people with influenza will recover without causing 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.

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.

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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 work by helping our bodies produce antibodies that provide protection against infection with the virus strains in the vaccine. The number of antibodies produced by your immune system 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 and provides protection against severe flu illness and hospitalization.
  • The flu shot is covered by most insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance.
  • 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.

Keep Up-to-date on Recommended Vaccines

Stay up to date on recommended vaccinations and save time by getting more than one vaccine during the same visit. Download this infographic to learn more and talk to your healthcare provider about which vaccines are recommended for you.
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Research Spotlight

Receiving both a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccination at the same time does not affect the protection the flu shot provides. The protection against one flu virus strain was higher when the COVID-19 vaccine was given in a different arm than the flu vaccine.

This is according to research conducted by Teresa Aydillo, PhD, et al who received a COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award from the American Lung Association.

Read more

Flu Shot Types

All flu vaccines currently available are quadrivalent vaccines. This means that they provide protection 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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has 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. You can get the flu by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching an object with the flu virus on it. Also carry hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol to have on hand when soap and water is not available.
  • Keep your distance when you are sick or if you are around someone else who is sick.
  • Keep it to yourself. Stay home when you are sick and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. You can spread flu typically up to seven days after becoming sick.
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5 Easy Actions to Fend Off Flu

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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: February 14, 2024

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