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Q: Will I get the flu from the flu shot? 

A: No. The flu shot is created from dead or inactive viruses that are non-infectious.

Q: Do I need a flu shot every year?

A: Yes. Flu viruses change every year. A new vaccine is used annually to fight the most current flu viruses. In addition, the antibodies a person develops from the vaccine decline over time.

Q: When should I get a flu shot?

A: Yearly flu vaccines typically begin in September, or as soon as the vaccine is available. They continue throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May.

Q: Why should I get a flu shot?

A: Influenza usually leaves people unable to function for several days and is responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year. Getting an annual flu shot is your best protection.

Q: Can I still get the flu after I get the flu shot?

A: Yes. Like other vaccines, the flu vaccine is not 100% effective and does not take effect until about two weeks after it is received. During this time, you will be just as open to get the flu as people who have not received the vaccine. Still, the best option to prevent the flu is to get an annual flu shot.

Q: What are the side effects of getting a flu shot?

A: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Almost all people who receive the flu vaccine have no serious problems from it. The most common side effects are soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, a low-grade fever and aches. These possible side effects begin soon after the shot is given and usually last one to two days. Rare side effects include severe allergic reactions. Anyone who is allergic to chicken eggs should avoid being vaccinated, since the virus used is grown in these eggs.

Q: Who should get a flu shot?

A: Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot each year, particularly those at higher risk for complications (see below).

Q: Am I classified as high risk?

A: There may be times when the flu vaccine is only available to certain groups of people, such as those at higher risk for complications.

These include:

• Children younger than five years of age, but especially children younger than two years of age

• Adults 65 years of age and older

• Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after the end of pregnancy

• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

• American Indians and Alaskan Natives

• People who have medical conditions including:

– Asthma (even if it’s controlled or mild)

– Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions

– Chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis

– Heart disease, such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease

– Blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease

– Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes mellitus,

– Kidney disorders

– Liver disorders

– Metabolic disorders, such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders n Weakened immune system due to disease or medication, such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids.

– People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

• People who are morbidly obese with a body mass index of 40 or greater