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Who should be vaccinated?

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older.

For more information on getting vaccinated, visit CDC's influenza website or your local health department's Web site.

Who should not be vaccinated?

  • People who have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to chicken eggs or to any other ingredient in the vaccine
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination
  • People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously
  • People who have a moderate to severe illness with a fever should wait until they recover to get vaccinated

General vaccine information

The seasonal influenza vaccine includes protection against the three most common influenza viruses.

Vaccination safety

The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza. The flu shot is made from a dead virus and cannot transmit the disease. The nasal spray is made from a weakened virus and does not cause the flu. The vaccine stimulates the body's natural immune response so that you can fight the real virus if and when you are exposed to it.

Potential side effects

The influenza vaccine, like any medicine, has a potential to cause problems, such as severe allergic reactions. But life-threatening allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, are very rare and usually occur within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine is given. The most common side effects include soreness, redness or swelling where the vaccine was given, fainting (mainly adolescents), headache, muscle aches, fever and nausea. If side effects do occur, they usually begin soon after the vaccination and last one to two days.

After vaccination, look for any unusual condition, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat or dizziness. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention right away.

Flu vaccine ingredients

Vaccine ingredients vary slightly by manufacturer. However, the vaccine packaging provides ingredient information, so notify your health care provider of any allergies prior to being vaccinated.

For a complete vaccine ingredient list, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.