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Do Flu Shots Really Work and Should I Get One?

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

Doctor holding a sign telling people to get a flu shot. Why get a flu shot? 

Some people swear by flu shots while others feel like getting the vaccination is a waste of time. If you haven’t discovered this already through simple conversation with your family and friends, there are many opinions on the matter.

Do flu shots really work?

The quick answer is yes, flu shots do work the majority 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, don’t worry, 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.  

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 Healthcare 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.  

How serious is the flu?

The flu, or influenza virus, is extremely serious. According to FluView from the CDC, there were 183 influenza-associated pediatric deaths in the 2017-2018 flu season. If that’s not serious enough, up to 26,000 children younger than the age of five are hospitalized each year because of the virus.  

Related: Read Tips On Tackling Flu Season  

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.”  

For SelectHealth 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.  

Don’t take your chances this year—get a free flu shot and give your immune system a better chance to protect against the flu before it strikes.  

And while you’re here, read our other healthy living articles.

Related: 4 Things You Should Know about Flu Shots


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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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