Why should I get the flu shot?

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The number one way to prevent getting the flu is getting the flu shot, says James Bush, MD, from John Randolph Medical Center. Learn more about flu shots in this short clip, including what makes a vaccine effective each year.
Tejas V. Raiyani, MD
Internal Medicine
A flu shot is considered a dead vaccine that can help prevent the development of future fatal diseases. Watch Tejas Raiyani, MD, discuss the importance of getting a flu shot.
Peter M. Lefevre, MD
Internal Medicine
You should get a flu shot because it will significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting the flu. It is especially important for people who are at risk of developing complications such as dehydration and pneumonia, potentially leading to hospitalization or death – as well as for anyone who is going to be in close contact with high-risk individuals.

Because the vaccine is developed about six months in advance based on the best estimates of scientists regarding the strain of influenza that will prevail in the next flu season, the flu shot is never 100% effective – but it dramatically lowers the risk and reduces flu symptoms even when full immunity is not conferred.
 
This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.
Like most viral diseases, the flu is highly contagious. Unlike the common cold, however, there's a relatively simple and safe way to protect against the flu: a vaccine.

Maybe you think you don't need a vaccine because you're young and healthy and don't work in a daycare center or nursing home. Or maybe you think you shouldn't get a vaccine because you're pregnant.

Unless you had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past or currently have a fever, you should get vaccinated. Even if you're young and healthy, flu vaccination is important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in years when the seasonal flu vaccine is a close match to the circulating viruses, the vaccine can be expected to reduce influenza rates by 70% to 90% in healthy adults under 65. One study found that healthy working adults receiving the seasonal flu vaccine had 43% fewer sick days from work.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. 
  • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common that season.
  • Getting a flu vaccine reduces flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school days due to flu., It also helps prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
  • Vaccinating those at high risk is especially important to decrease the risk of severe flu illness. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people aged 65 years and older.
  • Vaccinating health care workers and others who live with or care for high-risk people helps prevent the spread of flu to these people.
  • Children younger than six months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.
The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
In getting your flu shot, you reduce your risk of heart disease, because you reduce inflammation in your arteries. So, you are actually helping your arteries, which means less impotence, strokes, and wrinkling of the skin, as well as heart disease. Perhaps if more people saw it in that light, more would obtain their flu shots. Getting the flu vaccine for the flu makes you about one-third day younger; getting it for health of the arteries makes you about four months younger.

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Vaccines work to protect your body against germs. Because of vaccines, many of the diseases that can cause severe sickness, handicaps and death have been eradicated. Learn more from our experts about vaccines.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.