Do Flu Shots Really Work and Should I Get One?

Is it worth getting a flu shot? See what the CDC and other sources have to say about it.

Older man gets the flu vaccine.

Some people get a yearly flu shot while others feel like getting the vaccination is a waste of time. But getting the seasonal flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and others from getting ill.

Do flu shots really work?

The quick answer is yes, flu shots do work most of the time. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccinations to the public (anyone six months of age or older) each year. The vaccine isn’t perfect and doesn’t protect everyone from catching influenza, but overall, studies show moderate-to-high percentages of effectiveness.

Determining which flu viruses will be the most prevalent each flu season is challenging, but experts do their best to match the flu vaccine to potential circulating viruses each season. In years where the vaccine isn’t the best match, the flu shot is still the best way to prevent the flu. It can also reduce the severity of illness in people who are vaccinated but still get sick.

And, according to the CDC, the flu shot will not give you the flu. You might experience mild discomfort, soreness, or a low-grade fever after getting the shot. These symptoms should only last one to two days and are far less severe than contracting the flu.

Related: What you need to know about the flu shot

When to get a flu shot

The best time to get a flu shot is during the fall. Dr. Donna Barhorst, M.D. at Intermountain Health agrees. “Autumn is the prime time to vaccinate for maximum protection.” Barhorst also said flu vaccines should be given as soon as they become available. It takes about two weeks after a vaccination for antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body, so the CDC recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October.

Flu shot for pregnant women

Pregnant women can safely get a flu shot. According the CDC, vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated also protects the developing baby during pregnancy and for several months after the baby is born.

Related: 4 Things You Should Know about Flu Shots

For Select Health members, flu shots are covered under your plan’s medical preventive benefit when rendered in a medical setting. You can go to your doctor, clinic, or local participating pharmacy to get your shot this season.

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