Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. The vaccine is for everyone who is at least 6 months of age and it’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes:
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People 65 years and older.
- People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications. This includes:
- Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
Different side effects can be associated with the flu shot and LAIV. The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
If these problems occur, they being soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.