The flu impacts many people each year. Symptoms vary from person to person. While some who get the flu may be sick and recover, others may need hospital treatment, and still others may die from the illness. One of the best ways to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated so you are protected against the influenza viruses that will be most common during the flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people older than 6 months get vaccinated against influenza. Two types of vaccines exist. One type is the flu shot vaccine and the other type is the nasal spray flu vaccine, which is currently not an option until improvements are made by its manufacturer.
The traditional flu shot is made with an inactivated or killed virus, which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight off the flu.
The nasal spray flu vaccine, on the other hand, is made with a modified live virus. The virus is weakened, so it cannot cause the flu. The body builds up immunity as the virus reproduces in the nasal passages.
Both vaccines cause the body to develop antibodies about 2 weeks after vaccination. The antibodies are what provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
Guidelines on how to get the flu vaccine change from year to year. Ask your doctor which vaccine is best for you and your loved ones. Don’t wait until the flu is in high gear. Make the move to protect yourself during the flu season, which can begin as early as October and as late as May in the United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Flu—US Department of Health & Human Services
Public Health Agency of Canada
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
FluMist quadrivalent. FluMist website. Available at: https://www.flumistquadrivalent.com/consumer. Accessed November 16, 2017.
Keyfacts about seasonal flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Updated October 30, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2017.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Updated February 6, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2017.
Live, intranasal influenza VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flulive.html. Updated October 18, 2016. Accessed November 16, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 12/10/2015