How Can I Protect Myself Against Flu?

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Although warmer weather is around the corner the flu is still prevalent in some areas.

Yearly flu vaccination is the best tool currently available to protect against influenza (flu).  While how well the flu vaccine works can vary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications.

Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

Studies by CDC researchers and other experts indicate that flu vaccine reduces the risk of doctor visits due to flu by approximately 50% to 60% among the overall population when the vaccine viruses are like the ones spreading in the community. Other studies have shown similar protection against flu-related hospitalizations.

A flu vaccination does not guarantee protection against the flu. Some people who get vaccinated might still get sick. However, people who get a flu vaccine are less likely to get sick with flu or hospitalized from flu than someone who does not get vaccinated.

Why should I get the flu vaccine?

  • Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

The benefits of flu vaccination can vary. The most important factors that affect how well the flu vaccine works include:

  • The “match” between the flu vaccine and the flu viruses that are spreading that season; and
  • Factors such as the age and overall health of the person being vaccinated. For example, older people with weaker immune systems may respond less well to vaccination.

Experts are working to create flu vaccines that work better, but existing flu vaccines still offer important health benefits to the community.

For more information on the flu vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

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