Q:  Can I get the flu from the vaccine?

A:  No.  Each year, the flu vaccine is made from components of the flu virus that cannot transmit infection. Once administered, it takes ONE TO TWO WEEKS for the vaccine to offer protection from the flu virus. Those who got sick soon after receiving a flu vaccination either were infected with the flu before or just after they became vaccinated, or were infected with a different respiratory virus.

Q:  I am healthy – do I really need to get vaccinated?

A:  Yes. Children ages 6 months to 19 years old, pregnant women, and people who suffer from a chronic illness or are over age 49 are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to get vaccinated every year, as they are the most susceptible to the flu virus. The flu shot also is recommended for healthy people who might spread the virus to others who fall into the above categories.

Q: Can pregnant women get a flu shot?

A.Yes. The flu shot is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for pregnant women, as pregnancy can cause immune, heart and lung changes that all increase the risk for flu. The severe respiratory infection and high fevers associated with flu can lead to serious pregnancy complications — even premature labor. Vaccination can also protect the baby for the first few months of life, when he or she is not old enough to get the flu shot yet is very vulnerable to illness.

Q:  Can people with egg allergies get the flu shot?

A:  Vaccines without egg proteins are available, but most people with egg allergies WILL NOT have a serious reaction if given a vaccine that contains egg.

Q: If I got a flu shot and still got the flu, does that mean the vaccine didn’t work?

A.Unlike vaccines that offer 100 percent protection, such as vaccines for measles and polio, the flu
vaccine is about 60 to 90 percent effective. This is because MULTIPLE STRAINS OF THE FLU VIRUS circulate every year, and it’s difficult for scientists to predict exactly which strains will be dominant. Following a flu vaccination, it’s possible to become infected with a strain that wasn’t included in the vaccine. However, the vaccine will still be somewhat effective, and your symptoms will be less severe.

Q:  What are the symptoms of the flu?

A:  Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever*
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.