Flu vaccines: Protect yourself and your family

young child kissing their grandmother on the cheek

Your best defense against influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated. Across the country, hundreds of millions of people have gotten the flu vaccine safely for decades.

It’s an effective way to keep you, your family and your community from getting sick.

Why get vaccinated?

In the U.S., 5% to 20% of people get the flu every year. The misery of having the flu lasts for days and some symptoms can last for weeks.

The flu also weakens your immune system, leading to secondary infections that can be fatal. Secondary infections are especially life-threatening to older adults and people with chronic health conditions.

The flu vaccine helps protect you from getting influenza and lessens the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick.

Which vaccines do you need? View the adult immunization schedule.

COVID-19 and the flu

The flu and COVID-19 are alike in many ways – both are highly contagious respiratory diseases and cause similar symptoms.

COVID-19 spreads faster than the flu and can cause more serious illnesses. It also takes longer for COVID-19 symptoms to appear and the illness lasts longer.

If you have flu or COVID-19 symptoms, you’ll need to get tested to know which one you have. The symptoms are so similar that a diagnosis can’t be made on symptoms alone. It is possible to get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. While we don’t know for sure, a coinfection will likely have more severe symptoms.

Vaccines drastically decrease your chances of contracting COVID-19 and the flu. You can help stop the spread of these diseases by getting vaccinated.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Because the safety and well-being of our residents, clients and team members are our top priorities, the Good Samaritan Society requires COVID-19 and flu vaccinations for all of our staff members.

Where can I get vaccinated?

We’re here to help residents and clients protect themselves. Nurses at our long-term care locations can administer the vaccines on-site so residents can get flu and COVID-19 protection without leaving the building. The flu vaccine is available from September through May.

Residents can also call their local clinic to schedule a vaccination appointment or go to a pharmacy or walk-in clinic. Some health systems offer convenient drive-up flu shot clinics, which usually don’t require an appointment.

Related resources

Flu Vaccine FAQ

  • What is the flu?

    The flu is a virus that targets the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause:

    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Headache
    • Muscle aches
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Vomiting (in children)

    These symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks.

    The flu can also weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to other infections. In an average year, the flu leads to thousands of deaths nationwide and many more hospitalizations.

  • What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?

    Side effects can include:

    • Aches
    • Low-grade fever
    • Mild flu-like symptoms
    • Soreness and redness at the injection site
    • A serious allergic reaction, although this is rare (if you do have a reaction, it will likely be within minutes of getting vaccinated)
  • What is the flu vaccine?

    Vaccines use an inactive or weakened strain of the flu virus. Introducing this strain will teach your immune system to create antibodies that can target a live flu infection if you’re exposed later.

    Vaccines don’t contain a form of the flu that can make you sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carefully studies each new vaccine to guarantee its safety.

    Most vaccines are injected directly into an arm muscle. A nasal spray option is available during some flu seasons. People over 65 should talk to their doctor about their vaccine options.

  • Who should get the flu vaccine?

    According to the CDC, everyone ages 6 months and older should get vaccinated every fall.

    These groups should prioritize getting vaccinated because they’re at an increased risk of serious flu complications:

    • People 65 and older. Most flu hospitalizations and deaths occur in patients ages 65 and older.
    • Children. The flu can be life-threatening to children.
    • Pregnant women. Getting the vaccine protects pregnant women from serious flu complications and passes on antibodies to their babies.
  • When should I get the vaccine?

    Flu season occurs annually from November to April with most doctor visits and hospitalizations occurring from late December to early March. Stay protected and get the vaccine as early as it is available, usually in September or October.

  • Are flu vaccines required for nursing home residents?

    The Good Samaritan Society doesn’t require flu shots for residents, but we highly recommend residents get vaccinated since they’re typically in the high-risk category.

    Our staff is required to receive both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

  • How effective is the flu vaccine?

    Flu vaccines prevent millions of flu illnesses and doctor visits every year. They reduce the risk of illness by around 40% to 60% when the vaccines are well-matched to the circulating viruses.

    No vaccine is 100% effective, but the vaccine will likely reduce the severity and length of your illness.

    Vaccines have also been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death among vulnerable populations.

  • What types of flu vaccines are available?

    Different types include:

    • Flu shots delivered with a needle
    • Nasal spray flu vaccines
    • High-dose flue vaccines, which contain four times the amount of antigen and are specifically for adults ages 65 and older
  • What are some common flu shot myths?

    Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
    It’s impossible to get the flu from the vaccine since it uses a dead or inactive strain of influenza. You may experience mild flu-like side effects, but you won't get the actual illness.

    Myth: The flu isn’t a serious illness.
    Thousands of Americans die every year from complications of the flu. While the flu itself doesn’t kill people, it lowers your ability to fight other potentially fatal infections.

    Myth: You can have severe reactions to the vaccine.
    It’s very rare to have a serious reaction. These reactions often happen within minutes or hours of getting the vaccine, so if you do have a reaction, you’ll likely be near medical experts who can treat you.

    Myth: Healthy people don’t need vaccines.
    Just as you still wear your seatbelt even if you’ve never been in a car accident, you should still get vaccinated.

    Myth: Influenza is the same as the stomach flu.
    The influenza virus is a respiratory illness that causes fever, chills, cough and fatigue, which are different from stomach flu symptoms, also known as gastroenteritis.

  • Can I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?

    Yes. You can receive the COVID-19 vaccine and your annual flu shot at the same appointment.

  • Is it safe to get a flu vaccine during the pandemic?

    If you’re concerned about your health, you should prioritize getting a flu vaccine this season. Getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family.

    Call your local clinic to schedule an appointment.

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