Who should get an annual flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following groups receive an annual flu vaccine shot between November and February (flu season):

  • All people aged 6 months and older

It is especially important for certain individuals at high risk of flu complications and those who come in contact with people at high risk of complications to receive the flu vaccine. These people at high risk include:

  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • People who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney and liver disorders, and chronic lung diseases.
  • People with a weakened immune system, for example, people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic steroid users.
  • Household members and caregivers of patients at risk of complications from the flu.
  • Women who are — or will be — pregnant during the flu season (regardless of trimester).
  • Healthcare workers who come into close contact with patients in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare facilities.
  • Infants and children ages 6 months through 18 years who are taking long-term aspirin therapy. This puts these individuals at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after flu infection.
  • American Indians/Alaska natives.
  • People who have close contact with children under 5 years of age — for example, people who live with children, nannies, and providers of daycare services.
  • People who are morbidly obese (body-mass index of 40 or higher).

Can I get the flu from the flu shot or nasal spray?

No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot or nasal spray. However, some people can still get the flu even though they had the vaccine. In these cases, the flu symptoms are milder compared with unvaccinated people who get the flu.

What else can I do to prevent getting colds and the flu?

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcoholic hand wipes. Cold and flu viruses are spread by touching your nose or mouth after touching an infected person, breathing in the air of an infected person's sneeze or cough, or touching objects that have come in contact with the virus and then touching your nose.

Other prevention tips are to eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of liquids (try to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid/day), and avoid close contact with people who have colds. Also, get an annual flu vaccine.

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