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You see the signs at your pharmacy, doctor's office, maybe even at work: "Get Your Flu Shot." But do you really need one?

Yes, you do. The CDC says that everyone over 6 months old should get a flu vaccine -- even if you’ve never had the flu.

It’s really important to get a flu shot if you:

  • Have asthma
  • Have diabetes
  • Have heart or lung disease
  • Are pregnant
  • Are 65 or older
  • Live with or take care of someone at high risk
  • Are younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years of age.
  • Have a depressed immune system, HIV/AIDS, or cancer

Flu can hit these people hard. It can turn into pneumonia or cause other medical problems.

Why Get Vaccinated?

Even if you're super healthy, your co-workers, friends, or family may not be. Getting vaccinated protects you and them from catching and spreading the flu.

What's in the Flu Vaccine?

The flu vaccine is made of dead flu viruses. Since they're dead, you can’t catch the flu from them.

When you get a vaccine, your body learns what the flu looks like, so it can fight the illness. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to be ready to fight.

So how can you get a vaccine and still get the flu? Each year, scientists find the three or four types of flu that they think will be the most widespread and dangerous next year. Those dead viruses are put in flu vaccines. So while the flu vaccine can protect you from what scientists think will be the worst and most common flu types, it doesn’t protect you from all of them.

When Should You Get Vaccinated?

Flu season generally runs from October through May. Get the flu vaccine as soon as you can to protect yourself.

You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving. The earlier you get a vaccine, the sooner you're protected. Also, know that it’s never too late in the season to get a vaccine.

All About the Flu

How long you're contagious and other flu facts.

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Is it a cold or the flu?

Test your knowledge.

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