Five things you should know about the flu shot

December is peak flu season, so no wonder National Flu Vaccine Week is observed the week of December 6-10. There can be a lot of confusion around the vaccine, so let’s set the record straight. Here are 5 things the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone should know about the flu shot:

1. It’s never too late to get your flu shot.
While it’s best to get your flu shot early in the season (ideally in October), it is still beneficial to get a flu shot anytime during the season. The flu can be in circulation as late as March, and the shot can help protect you until then.

2. Everyone should get the flu shot, even children and pregnant women.
The flu can affect anyone, and the flu shot is safe for almost everyone. Speak with your doctor about recommendations for your child based on their age and previous vaccinations. And all flu vaccinations are safe for pregnant women. Even if you’re young and healthy, you can help protect yourself and the vulnerable people around you by getting vaccinated.

3. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Many people think that the flu shot causes you to get the flu. That’s false. You may have side effects like headache, fever, nausea after getting the flu shot, but those should subside within a couple days. It takes up to two weeks to reach full immunity after receiving the shot, so if you do get the flu, it is possible you were exposed to the flu virus before the vaccine took full effect.

4. Get a flu shot every year.
Different strains of the influenza virus are prevalent each year, so the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older get a flu shot annually. Many places offer the flu shot including pharmacies, doctor's offices, county public health department offices, and urgent care clinics.

5. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu.
Once you get the shot, use common-sense tactics: Avoid people who are sick, wash your hands regularly, and stay home when you’re feeling symptomatic. Check out our series of flu prevention tips on Facebook (and look out for more, soon!). If you do contract the flu, the best thing to do is get lots of rest!

Whether you’ve already received your flu shot this year or not, help your community stay healthy by sharing this on Facebook and encouraging your family and friends to get the facts about the flu vaccine and get vaccinated themselves.

Want to learn more about the flu and how to prevent it? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some great resources.

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