Seasonal Flu Shot FAQ

drive-thru flu vaccination clinic

As you may know by now, getting your flu vaccination is more important than ever this year. That’s because both the flu and COVID-19 are spreading this fall. Your flu vaccine will not only keep you and your loved ones healthier and out of the medical setting, but it will also preserve medical resources for those on the COVID-19 frontlines. The more people vaccinated against the flu, the more people protected!

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine:

Q: Does getting a flu vaccination increase your risk of COVID-19?

A: No. There is no evidence that getting your annual flu vaccination increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19. 


Q: Does the flu shot weaken your immune system?

A: No. The flu shot does not weaken your immune system or make you more likely to get the flu. Getting your annual flu shot prepares your immune system to fight off the flu. 


Q: Can seasonal flu vaccines or pneumonia vaccines protect you against COVID-19?

A: No. Vaccines that protect you against the seasonal flu or pneumonia do not provide protection against COVID-19. COVID-19 is a new virus and needs its own vaccine. 


Q: Why should people get their seasonal flu shot? 

A: It is more important than ever to protect against the flu, which is also a respiratory illness. Flu vaccinations are critical to help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the general population and reduce the burden on the healthcare system during the pandemic.


Q: Can a flu vaccine give you flu?

A: No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made with either inactivated viruses or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray flu vaccine contains attenuated (weakened) live viruses so that they will not cause illness.


Q: Is it better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine?

A: No. The flu can be a serious disease. Young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes are at high risk for flu complications. Anyone can experience complications, hospitalization, or death, not just individuals who are at risk. Getting your annual flu shot is a safer choice than risking illness. 


Q: Do I need to get a flu vaccine every year?

A: Yes. It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older (with rare exceptions) receive an annual flu shot. The protection received from flu vaccination declines over time. Getting a flu shot every year provides the best protection against the flu. Also, flu viruses are constantly changing. Flu vaccines are updated as needed based on which flu virus is going around. 


Q: What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu symptoms?

A: There are a few reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they’ve received their annual flu shot. 

  1. People can become ill from other respiratory illnesses, such as rhinoviruses, that cause symptoms similar to the flu and spread during flu season. The flu vaccine does not protect against other illnesses, only influenza.
  2. It takes two weeks after you’ve received your flu shot for your body to develop protection. Individuals may become sick with the flu if they were exposed to flu viruses before or shortly after receiving their flu shot, as the vaccination did not have enough time to take effect. 
  3. As mentioned before, flu viruses are constantly changing and flu vaccines are updated based on which flu virus is going around. Individuals may have been exposed to a flu virus that is different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people.
  4. Flu vaccines vary in how well they work. This means that some people who do receive a flu shot will still get sick. Although some individuals may still get sick with the flu, flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the severity of illness in people who still get sick.


Q: Is COVID-19 just like the flu?  

A: No. COVID-19 spreads faster and can be more severe and deadly than influenza or the common cold. COVID-19 symptoms may include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell. Since initial COVID-19 symptoms are often similar to some of the symptoms of colds and flu, diagnostic tests help determine if a person has COVID-19. Confirmed COVID-19 illness has ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.




Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Public Health Communications Collaborative

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