- The flu vaccine will not give you the flu.
- The flu is caused by a virus. It can't be treated with antibiotics.
- The flu can be life-threatening, especially for people in high-risk groups. About 36,000 people die of complications from the flu each year.
- Influenza is not the same as "stomach flu," the 24-hour bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea. This is most likely due to a GI (gastrointestinal) infection—not the flu.
Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly. Fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle aches are symptoms of the flu. Children may have upset stomach or vomiting, but adults usually don't. Some symptoms, such as fatigue and cough, can last a few weeks.
How a Flu Vaccine Protects You
There are many strains (types) of flu viruses. Medical experts predict which 3 strains are most likely to make people sick each year. Flu vaccines are made from these strains. With the shot, inactivated ("killed") flu viruses are injected into your body. The viruses in the vaccine cannot make you sick. But it does prompt the body to make antibodies to fight these flu strains. If you're exposed to the same strains later in the flu season, the antibodies will fight off the virus.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccination?
Almost anyone can (and should) get vaccinated, especially people in the following high-risk groups:
- Persons 50 and older
- Babies and children 6 months and older (ask your healthcare provider if your child should receive the vaccine)
- Children on long-term aspirin therapy
- People with chronic health problems (such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, asthma, or heart failure)
- People receiving certain medical treatments
- People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
- Pregnant women
- Caregivers and household contacts of babies younger than 6 months
- Healthcare workers
Who Can't Get a Flu Vaccination ?
- Babies younger than 6 months
- People severely allergic to eggs
- People who have had bad reactions to flu vaccination (including Guillain-Barré syndrome)
- A person who has a high fever (the vaccine can be given after the fever goes away).