Which Vaccine Is Right for You?
- Regular flu shot. This is the shot most people are familiar with. You get the shot in the upper arm or shoulder. You can get it even if you have a long-lasting medical condition like diabetes.
- Intradermal flu shot. Don't like needles? This vaccine may be for you. It uses a much smaller needle that only goes into the skin, not into the muscle like a regular flu shot. It works as well as the regular flu shot, and it's OK for people ages 18-64.
- High-dose flu shot. If you're 65 or older, this option is for you. Older people have a harder time fighting off the flu. This vaccine gives you a larger dose for stronger protection.
- Nasal-spray flu vaccine. No needles here -- you breathe the vaccine in through your nose. This is an option if you're healthy, not pregnant, and between the ages of 2 and 49. The CDC recommends the nasal spray flu vaccine over the flu shot for children 2 to 8 years old, because recent studies have shown the spray may work better in this age group. Unlike the flu shot, it has live viruses, but they're weak and are not likely to give you the flu.
Where Can You Get the Flu Vaccine?
- Doctor's offices
- Health departments
- College health centers
- Some workplaces
The CDC has an online vaccine finder that can show you the nearest location.
What if You Get the Flu?
If you start feeling sick and are older than 65, are pregnant, or have conditions like asthma or diabetes, call your doctor right away. Ask about antiviral medicines. They can shorten the flu by 1 or 2 days and prevent serious problems like pneumonia. But it’s best if you take them as soon as you have symptoms like fever, sneezing, body aches, stuffiness, or coughing.
If you aren't likely to have medical problems, you probably don't need this type of medicine.
There are two FDA-approved antiviral medications for flu. You shouldn’t take either if you’ve had symptoms for more than 2 days:
Relenza (zanamivir). People age 7 and older can take this. You inhale this medicine, so people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) shouldn't take it.
Tamiflu (oseltamivir). People age 1 year and older can take this. It comes in pill form for adults and teens over age 13. It also comes in liquid form.