Vaccines to Prevent the Flu

Overview

You can help prevent the flu by getting a flu vaccine every year, as soon as it is available. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. The vaccine prevents most cases of the flu. But even when the vaccine doesn't prevent the flu, it can make symptoms less severe and reduce the chance of problems from the flu.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone age 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine each year. It lowers the chance of getting and spreading the flu. The vaccine is very important for people who are at high risk for getting other health problems from the flu. This includes:

  • Anyone 65 years of age or older.
  • People who live in a long-term care center, such as a nursing home.
  • All young children.
  • Adults and children 6 months and older who have long-term heart or lung problems, such as asthma.
  • Adults and children 6 months and older who needed medical care or were in a hospital during the past year because of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or a weak immune system (including HIV or AIDS).
  • Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
  • People who have any condition that can make it hard to breathe or swallow (such as a brain injury or muscle disorders).
  • People who can give the flu to others who are at high risk for problems from the flu. This includes all health care workers and close contacts of people age 65 or older.

Do flu vaccines protect against more than one strain of flu virus?

Flu vaccines are made to work against more than one strain of flu. For example, a trivalent vaccine works against three strains, and a quadrivalent vaccine works against four strains of flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend one version over another version.

Flu viruses are always changing. Each year's flu vaccine is made to protect against viruses that are likely to cause disease that year. Ask your doctor whether or not a vaccine is safe for you and which one may be best for you.

Credits

Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

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