Here’s what you need to know about the flu vaccine

Nov. 3, 2017

Anothai Thiansawang/Shutterstock

Every year, tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. from complications related to influenza, better known as the flu.


With a few exceptions, the CDC recommends that every American older than 6 months get the flu vaccine, but only 43.3% of adults actually got it in 2016.


The flu shot is free under most insurance plans — so what’s stopping people from getting their flu vaccine?

Ikonoklast Fotografie/Shutterstock

Part of it may be due to harmful — and false — myths about the flu vaccine. One that’s often passed around is that the flu vaccine can give you the flu.

That’s just not true, says Sophie Godley, of Boston University’s school of public health. And no, there’s no live influenza in the vaccine.

panpilai paipa/Shutterstock

That’s not how vaccines work.

— Sophie Godley

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Godley explained that vaccines simply prepare your immune system, so if you’re exposed to the flu, you won’t get sick.

India Picture/Shutterstock

Anyone who says they got sick after the flu vaccine was likely sick when they got it, and it seems connected, Godley said.


Doctors say that even if you aren’t at a high risk for developing flu-related complications, you should still get the vaccine.


Getting your flu shot could be lifesaving for others, because it lowers the risk that you’ll pass it on to someone else.

Thana Thanadechakul/Shutterstock

The flu vaccine is recommended to everyone over 6 months of age in this country for a reason. And the reason is it can save your life.

— Paul Offit, Vaccine Education Center at CHOP