Getting an annual influenza (flu) shot is one of the best tools we have to prevent the spread of the flu. By getting your flu shot, you’re not only protecting yourself, you’re protecting those around you. So let’s talk about who should get the flu vaccine.
Can everyone get the shot? Who should get a flu vaccine?
The short answer is: pretty much. The CDC recommends that those 6 months of age and older get an annual flu vaccine. This is especially important for people who are at high risk of experiencing flu complications, including young children, pregnant people, and older adults.
There are only very rare occasions where getting a flu shot isn’t recommended for certain people — like very young babies; those with serious, specific allergies; or people with weakened immune systems. Because some folks can’t be vaccinated, it makes it that much more important that those of us who can get the vaccine do.
Benefits of being vaccinated
The more people who get vaccinated against the flu, the better it is for everyone. Here are some of the most important reasons why.
Shots Help with Herd Immunity
“Herd immunity” is a term that’s used to describe the concept of a large number of people in a community being vaccinated against a certain disease. When that number is high enough, it helps to prevent the spread of germs through a community, including the most vulnerable people who can’t get a flu shot themselves.
On a more basic level, no one wants to get the flu. The flu is much more than a cold, with symptoms like fever, fatigue, aches, cough, and headache. It can also cause complications like pneumonia, and can be very dangerous. The flu shot helps prevent you from getting infected, or in the event that you’re vaccinated but still pick up the flu, it ensures a much milder case.
Flu vaccinations can help keep us all healthy
So unless you’re one of those few folks who isn’t able to get a flu shot, you should. And this year, staying protected against the flu is extra important. The pandemic has already put a huge strain on our medical system, and with public health officials expecting that this fall and winter may mean a surge of new COVID-19 cases, many experts fear that even a mild flu season could overwhelm an already taxed medical system. The fewer flu cases circulating, the better. The simple step of getting a flu shot goes a long way toward helping protect you and the people around you from serious disease.
- Jan Hoffman. “Fearing a ‘Twindemic,’ Health Experts Push Urgently for Flu Shots.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, September 2 2020. Retrieved October 7 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/16/health/coronavirus-flu-vaccine-twindemic.html.
- “Cold Versus Flu.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 31 2020. Retrieved October 7 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm.
- “Flu Symptoms & Complications.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 31 2020. Retrieved October 7 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm.
- “Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020-2021 Season.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 7 2020. Retrieved October 7 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm.
- “The Flu.” healthychildren.org. The American Academy of Pediatrics, September 18 2020. Retrieved October 7 2020. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/The-Flu.aspx.