The flu shot: the other shot you may still need

A patient receives a bandage after getting a vaccination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season lasts from October to May.1 Yes, you read that right—May! Even though the CDC recommends getting a flu shot at the beginning of the season, it’s not too late to get yours today.2

Starting the new year with a flu vaccine may help protect you from getting the flu or lessen your symptoms if you happen to catch it. The vaccine takes about 2 weeks for your body to make antibodies to protect you from getting the flu, so there’s no reason to wait any longer. Especially since the CDC says, “Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of flu vaccines.”3

If you’re older than 65, you’re at more risk for developing serious flu complications than younger people.4 Why? Per the CDC, as you age, your immune system gets weaker, and it has a harder time protecting yourself from the flu and other illnesses. Unfortunately, between 70%–85% of flu-related deaths occurred in seniors, as reported by the CDC.5 In addition, between 50%–70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.6

We know prevention measures, such as social distancing and wearing masks, were put into place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which helped limit early-season flu outbreaks. However, keep in mind that as these measures are relaxed, it is important to continue to help protect yourself.7

The good news is, getting the flu shot is generally quick and easy, and studies show it can help reduce the risk of being admitted to the hospital.8 Vaccines are also readily available. Find them at your healthcare provider’s office, retail pharmacies, your local health department or even drive-thru flu-shot clinics.

And yes, you may have a sore arm after getting the vaccine, but the vaccine will keep you safe from these flu symptoms:9

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue