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Flu. When you see those three letters you might think, no big deal.

You’ve had the flu before and while it wasn’t fun, there are other viruses that you’re more worried about. But the flu can be a big deal. Influenza can be unpredictable and serious — even if you’re healthy.

You can protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season by getting vaccinated. You might not realize just how important getting your flu shot is for your health. Especially if you’re over age 50.

Did you know your risk of a heart attack goes up if you have the flu? Getting the flu shot might be low on your to-do list. But it can help keep you safe, healthy and ready to tackle the season ahead of you.

Protect Yourself From Not Only the Flu — But Heart Attack and Stroke

FAQs About the Flu Shot

Does the flu vaccine give you the flu?

It’s important to know that the flu shot can’t give you the flu. While your body might have a short immune reaction to the vaccine — mild fever, headache and fatigue — it’s not the flu. In fact, a few side effects are actually good. The flu shot tricks your body into thinking it has the flu so it can start making the antibodies to fight it if you’re exposed. If you get side effects, they should be gone within 48 hours.

Can I get my flu and COVID shots at the same time?

It’s safe to get both the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time. If you’re eligible, let your provider know you would like to have a COVID booster, too.

Will I still be able to get the flu shot if I’m sick?

It depends on how sick you are. If you have a mild cold, getting your flu shot when you’re sick is fine. But if you have a fever (100.4° F or 38° C for adults), you should wait until you get better to get the vaccine. The same is true if you’re sick enough to stay home from school or work and are completely miserable.

Are my kids allowed to get the flu shot?

Kids 6 months and older can get the flu vaccine. If your kids are 5 and older and haven’t had a COVID vaccine, they can get one at the same time.

Can I get a flu shot if I’m pregnant?

Yes. The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women. It’s safer to get the flu shot than get sick, which could land you in the hospital. We recommend getting one as soon as it is available, no matter what trimester you’re in.

If I get a flu shot this year, will I ever need to get another?

Unfortunately, the flu vaccine isn’t a one-and-done shot. You need to get the flu vaccine every year before flu season starts. Why is that? There are many different flu strains (types). The influenza virus also changes (mutates) quickly. This means that the version of the flu we’re facing this year can be different from what we’ll see next year. Getting an annual shot is an important part of protecting yourself.

The Flu’s No Joke

Sometimes getting the flu can lead to complications. Explore why the flu can be serious.

Dangers of the Flu

The flu can be more than just a sick day or two. There are millions of flu cases each year — between 10% and 20% of the U.S. population is estimated to get the flu annually. And the flu doesn’t affect everyone equally. Your risk of severe flu complications goes up if you have conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or lung disease. You can also be at a higher risk if you’re at opposite ends of the age spectrum — younger than age 2 or 65+.

Test Your Flu Knowledge

How much do you know about the flu? Take our pop quiz and find out.

Thinking About Skipping Your Flu Shot This Year?

Here’s why you might want to think again

Sometimes, the flu can be mild. But other times it can have serious complications — even if you’re healthy. People can find themselves in the hospital from the flu. It can even be deadly. Getting your flu shot early can reduce your risk of getting the flu. And if you do come down with it, which can sometimes still happen, your symptoms most likely won’t be as bad.

Scheduling your flu vaccine might not be on the top of your to-do list as we turn the corner into fall, but it’s worth taking the time to do.

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