Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

No. The flu vaccine is made with dead flu viruses, so it can’t give you the flu.

How serious is the flu?

The flu is one of the top causes of death in the United States. Each year thousands of people are hospitalized and die because of the flu.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. This is especially important for pregnant women, children, older adults, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, or kidney, heart, or lung disease.

Why should I get the flu vaccine, I’m healthy.

If you get the flu vaccine you are protecting yourself and your loved ones and community. Flu spreads from person to person. So if you get vaccinated you are preventing someone else from getting the flu, who might be less healthy than you. The flu is very dangerous for children and older adults, so you protect them when you protect yourself.

Is the stomach flu the same as the flu?

No. The stomach flu is a stomach disease and the flu is a lung disease. Some people who get the flu vomit or have diarrhea, but those are symptoms of their flu not the stomach flu.

When is it too late to get the flu vaccine?

The best time to get the flu vaccine is early in flu season, such as October. But you can get the flu vaccine any time during flu season, between September and May. It will still help protect you and your community whenever you get it.

Do I need to get vaccinated every year?

Yes. Each year the flu viruses are different, so each year the flu vaccine is different.

How important is hand washing?

Washing your hands and covering your cough are important and do help prevent the spread of flu, but the best way to keep you and your community safe is to get a flu vaccine.

How is flu spread?

Flu is mainly spread from tiny droplets in coughs and sneezes.

Do I have to get a shot?

No. The flu vaccine is available as a shot and as a nasal spray.

Can I tell if someone is contagious?

Not always. Adults can spread the flu a full day before they start having symptoms, and for five days after becoming sick. Children can spread the flu for a longer period of time.

How quickly does the flu vaccine work?

Two weeks after you get vaccinated. That’s how long it takes your body to make the antibodies that protect you from flu. And that’s why it’s important to get the flu shot early.

What’s the difference between “influenza” and “flu?”

Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it's not the same as stomach "flu" viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting. When you get a flu vaccine, you’re protecting yourself and the people around you from influenza.


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Flu shots play an important role in keeping our communities healthy.
— Bernard Tyson, CEO, Kaiser Permanente

Want more answers?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have helpful information here.