5 Frequently Asked Questions About the Flu Shot

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As soon as the leaves begin to turn, you see messages nearly everywhere--from your local pharmacy to the national media--reminding you that it’s time to get a flu shot. And with good reason.

Seasonal influenza is not to be taken lightly. Unlike other respiratory infections like the common cold, influenza can be serious; and in young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, cause life-threatening complications. Although each flu season is different, there are a few facts you should know.

5 Common Questions

1. Who Should Get Vaccinated this Flu Season?

The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months or older get vaccinated with rare exception. Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk for flu-related complications, including pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended due to its lower effectiveness.

2. Should Seniors Get the High-dose Flu Vaccine?

If you are 65 years of age or older, talk to your doctor about the high dose flu vaccine. There is some evidence to suggest a high dose flu shot may be more effective in preventing illness in older patients.

3. Can I Get the Flu Even if I Get Vaccinated?

Flu vaccines are developed based on what research suggests will be the most common flu viruses during the upcoming season. Most flu shots are about 50-60% effective at preventing flu infection.

Although the flu shot isn’t perfect, it has been shown to help prevent the most serious complications and decrease the rates of hospitalization for both adults and children. If you’re pregnant, vaccination also provides protection for your unborn baby up to 6 months after birth.

4. When Should I Be Vaccinated?

Flu outbreaks can occur as early as October, usually peaking in January or later. Since it takes about 2 weeks after getting the flu shot for protective antibodies to develop, it is best to get vaccinated soon after the vaccine becomes available.

5. Can I Get the Flu by Getting a Flu Shot?

No. You cannot get the influenza virus from the flu shot. There are lots of cough and cold viruses that go around at the same time that flu shots are administered, and it is not uncommon for people to get one of these viruses and mistake it for influenza.

Some people may experience mild side effects from the flu shot, including arm soreness, redness around the injection site, low-grade fever, and muscle aches.

If You Think You Have the Flu

If you are experiencing influenza symptoms (fever, muscle aches, congestion, cough, sore throat, fatigue), make an appointment to see your doctor, preferably within the first 2 days. Medication can be prescribed to help shorten the length of your illness, but it is most effective when given within the first 2 days of symptoms.

Schedule your flu shot at a Lancaster General Health Physicians’ office.

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Ashley A. Kempsell, MD

Ashley A. Kempsell, MD, is family medicine doctor with LG Health Physicians Lincoln Family Medicine. Dr. Kempsell enjoys working with patients to help them reach their goals and live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Education: Medical School–Eastern Virginia Medical School; Internship and Residency–Lancaster General Hospital.

Call: 717-738-0660

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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