Each year, millions of Americans become sick from flu viruses. Between 2010 and 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that flu has resulted in 9 million – 41 million illnesses, 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 – 52,000 deaths annually.
The best way to protect yourself against flu and its complications is with an annual flu vaccine. It is crucial to get a vaccine every year because your immune protection from vaccination declines over time. Flu viruses also mutate and the previous year’s vaccination may no longer be effective against the new strains.
A flu vaccine helps protect you from developing the flu. It is available as an injection and a nasal spray this season. Both protect against the four flu viruses expected to be most common in the upcoming season.
Peak flu season generally begins in the fall and lasts through the winter into early spring, but you can get the flu any time of year. You can get your flu vaccine at your local Rite Aid to protect yourself throughout the flu season.
Getting the flu vaccine can help reduce your risk of developing flu illness. People who get the vaccine are 40 to 60 percent less likely to visit the doctor during seasons when the strains of flu in the vaccine are similar to the circulating flu viruses.
Flu vaccination can also reduce your risk of ending up in the hospital due to the flu. During the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations.
The flu vaccine can reduce the severity of your symptoms should you develop the flu. A 2021 study found that among adults, flu vaccination was associated with a 26 percent reduction in odds of being admitted to the ICU and a 31 percent lower risk of death from the flu than unvaccinated adults.
The flu vaccine can be lifesaving in pregnant women and children. Pregnant women who receive the vaccine can protect their child from the flu for months after birth. Getting the flu vaccine reduces a pregnant woman’s risk of developing flu-associated respiratory infections by about 50 percent. A 2017 study found that the flu vaccination significantly reduces the risk of flu-related deaths in children.
The CDC recommends that every individual six months or older get the flu vaccine every season, with rare exceptions.
Different flu vaccines are approved for people of different ages. You should get the vaccine that is appropriate for your age and health status. The standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV4) is appropriate for anyone six months or older. The recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV4) is currently approved for individuals 18 and older. Additionally, people 65 and older may receive an adjuvanted or high-dose inactivated vaccine.The intranasal vaccine is approved for those 2-49 years of age.
You can get a flu shot if you are pregnant or have an egg allergy. People with certain chronic health conditions may be eligible for a flu shot but should speak with their doctor before getting vaccinated. You should not get the nasal flu vaccine if you are pregnant or have certain health conditions.
Get your yearly flu shot at your local Rite Aid pharmacy.
Children under six months of age should not get a flu shot.
People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins) should not get that vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of flu vaccine should not get that vaccine again and might not be able to receive other flu vaccines. They should talk with their healthcare provider to help determine whether vaccination is appropriate for them.
If you are not feeling well or have one of the following conditions, talk with your healthcare provider to decide whether vaccination is right for you, and to select the best vaccine for your situation:
An allergy to eggs or any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
A history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS). Some people with a history of GBS should not get a flu vaccine.
A severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of any flu vaccine.