The Top 10 Things You Need to Know This Flu Season
Oct 20, 2021
As COVID-19 continues, but preventive measures like masking and social distancing have relaxed, public health experts worry this flu season could be serious. That’s why, for the 2021-2022 flu season, we’re clearing up some misconceptions about the flu and flu vaccination. Here are the top ten things you need to know as the season begins:
1. Flu can be much more serious than the common cold.
Aside from COVID-19, flu is the deadliest vaccine-preventable disease in the U.S. Upwards of 61,000 people lose their lives to flu each year – that’s about 7 people every hour including healthy children and adults.
2. Everyone six months and older needs a flu vaccine EVERY year.
Circulating flu viruses can change from year to year, so new vaccines are made annually to protect against the strains that are the most likely to spread each season. This season, all available flu vaccines in the U.S. help protect against the same four flu strains (H1N1, H3N2, B/Victoria, and B/Yamagata). It can take up to two weeks for your flu vaccine to offer you full protection and because flu activity can be unpredictable, it’s best to get vaccinated by the end of October and before flu starts circulating in your community.
3. Even healthy people need to get a flu vaccine every year.
Anyone can get seriously sick with the flu, regardless of age, gender, health status, ethnicity, or lifestyle. Practicing healthy habits like hand washing and avoiding close contact with sick people can help lower your risk of getting sick, but flu vaccination is the best defense against flu-related illness, hospitalization, and death.
4. Flu vaccines cannot give you the flu.
Flu vaccines do not contain live viruses that are capable of making you sick. Rather, they work by activating and preparing our immune systems to fight off these viruses without the danger of actual infection.
5. Flu vaccination side effects are NOT worse than the actual flu.
Common side effects after flu vaccines are generally mild (e.g., soreness where you got the shot, headache, muscle aches, tiredness) and go away within a day or two. Symptoms of flu illness are generally more severe and include:
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle and/or body aches
These symptoms can last a few days to a couple of weeks and can lead to complications such as pneumonia.
Have you read:
- Why We Celebrate “Flu Shot Day” in Our Home
- 3 Things I’ve Learned Since Losing My Son to Flu
- Flu 2021 Forecast: Do I Still Need a Flu Vaccine This Year Even if Last Season Was Mild?
6. Flu vaccination is safe, even for pregnant people.
Flu vaccines have been safely given to hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. over the past 50+ years. Like all vaccines, flu vaccines are routinely monitored for safety. There is a large amount of research that supports the safety of flu vaccination for pregnant people and their babies.
7. Finding a flu vaccine can be convenient.
You can get your flu vaccine at a pharmacy, doctor’s office, clinic, and sometimes even at local health departments, grocery stores, and schools. Some retail locations will even give you free gift cards or coupons for getting your flu vaccine! Visit vaccines.gov to find a place near you to get vaccinated.
8. Flu vaccines are free for a lot of people.
With insurance, flu vaccines are almost always free. If it isn’t covered by your insurance, many locations offer discounts, flexible payment plans, or even a free flu vaccine. Children ages 18 years or younger who are uninsured, underinsured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian, or Alaska Native can qualify for a free flu vaccine through the Vaccines For Children program. Adults who lack health insurance may be able to find a free flu vaccine through local clinics, health departments, or a Federally Qualified Health Center or Rural Health Center. Still have questions? Check out our Paying for Vaccines tool.
9. You can get a flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine at the same time.
The current guidance from medical experts indicates flu and COVID vaccines can safely be given at the same time. This includes COVID booster doses if you are eligible. If you’re worried about a sore arm, you can receive these vaccines in separate arms.
Flu vaccines help protect you against four different flu viruses that may be circulating this season. COVID vaccines help protect you against COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2. Flu vaccines cannot protect you against COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines cannot protect you against flu. Therefore, it’s important to get BOTH vaccines this season to be fully protected.
10. Flu vaccination helps protect not only you, but also your family, friends, and community.
Getting a flu vaccine helps protect you from getting seriously sick or dying from the flu. It also helps protect your loved ones by reducing the spread of this infectious disease. The more people that are vaccinated, the less flu can spread in your household and community!
With both COVID-19 and the flu circulating this flu season, you don’t want to be left vulnerable to disease. Talk to a trusted healthcare professional about which flu vaccine is right for you and your family. Get your flu vaccine today to help protect yourself and your loved ones!
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