Prevent the Flu

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Prevent the Flu with Vaccination

VDH and CDC recommend yearly influenza (flu) vaccination. Flu vaccination is the most important step in protecting yourself and your loved ones from the flu.  

Reasons to get a flu vaccine 

  • Vaccination can reduce your chance of getting the flu and spreading it to others 
  • If you do get the flu, it can reduce the severity of your illness and prevent hospitalization 
  • When more people get vaccinated, less flu illness can spread through the community

Who should get a flu vaccine? 

Everyone aged 6 months and older should get a flu shot every year. 

Vaccination is important for people at increased risk of serious complications from the flu.  People at increased risk include: 

  • Adults aged 65 years and older 
  • Children younger than six months of age 
  • Pregnant people 
  • People with asthma, diabetes, and heart or lung disease or other chronic medical conditions and  
  • Immunocompromised people 

It is also important for people who live or care for people at increased risk to get vaccinated. A caregiver can include: 

  • Healthcare workers 
  • Anyone who lives with someone at increased risk 
  • Anyone who takes care of someone at increased risk, like family members who take care of young children or infants 
  • People who work in long-term care facilities   

Visit CDC’s flu webpage for a full list of people who are at increased risk for developing complications from the flu. 

When to get your flu vaccine 

Everyone should be vaccinated against the flu by the end of October every year. September and October are the best times to get vaccinated. Certain groups of people may need to get it earlier.  Talk to your healthcare provider to see when you should get your flu vaccine 

  • Some children need two doses of flu vaccine. For those children it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second dose needs to be given at least four weeks after the first. Vaccination during July and August can also be considered for children who need only one dose and have health care visits during these months.  
  • Most adults, especially those 65 years and older, and pregnant people in the first or second trimester should generally not get vaccinated early, in July or August, because protection may decrease over time.  
  • Pregnant people who are in their third trimester can get a flu vaccine in July or August to ensure their babies are protected from flu after birth when they are too young to get vaccinated. 

It is important to get a flu vaccine every year. People’s protection from vaccination declines over time, so yearly flu vaccine increases your protection. Also, flu viruses change often, so vaccines are updated each year to protect you from the flu virus that is expected to be the most common during that flu season. You can also get your flu vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, like COVID-19. 

Where to get your flu vaccine 

You can get your flu shot at many different locations, like your doctor’s office or local clinic. You can also check your college/university health center. If you don’t have a regular health care provider, you can get a flu shot at a health department or pharmacy. 

Search for a flu shot provider with CDC’s Vaccine Locator or contact your local health department 

Types of flu vaccines 

There are several vaccine options to choose from each flu season Different vaccines are approved for different age groups and some vaccines are not recommended for some groups of people. 

The Flu Shot 

  • The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot, is usually given in the arm with a needle.  
  • The flu shot can be used in people aged 6 months or older, including people with chronic medical conditions. 

 The Nasal Spray Vaccine 

  • The nasal spray flu vaccine is made with weakened live flu viruses and is given as a nasal spray. The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu.  
  • The nasal spray vaccine can be used in people aged 2 through 49 years of age who are not immunocompromised, pregnant, or have certain medical conditions. 

Visit the CDC webpage to learn more about the different type of flu vaccines. 

2023-2024 Flu Vaccine Updates 

Flu viruses are constantly changing. U.S. flu vaccines are reviewed every year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccines advisory committee and updated to best match the flu viruses that are predicted to be the most common during the upcoming season. The 2023-2024 season U.S. flu vaccines will contain an updated influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 component: 

  • A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus for egg-based vaccines and 
  • A/Wisconsin/67/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus for cell-based or recombinant vaccines. 

Visit the CDC webpage for more information.   

What flu vaccine should I get? 

There is no preferred flu vaccine for people under the age of 65.  

For those aged 65 years and older, it is recommended that they receive a quadrivalent vaccine for the 2023–2024 season. These vaccines are called quadrivalent because they are designed to protect against four different flu viruses. 

However, all U.S. flu vaccines will be trivalent for the 2024-2025 season. More information is available on the CDC webpage.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about what flu vaccine to get. The most important thing is for all people aged 6 months or older to get a flu vaccine every year.  

Who should NOT get a flu vaccine? 

  • Children aged younger than 6 months of age 
    • These children are at increased risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be vaccinated. People who are in regular close contact with infants and other children not vaccinated for the flu (e.g., caregivers and household members) should receive the flu vaccine. Additionally, breastfeeding can provide some protection against the flu for infants. 
  • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins). This could include antibiotics, gelatin, or other ingredients.  
  • See Special Considerations Regarding Egg Allergy for more information about egg allergies and flu vaccine. People with an egg-allergy may receive any flu vaccine (egg-based or non-egg based) that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health status. Additional safety measures are no longer recommended for flu vaccination beyond those recommended for receipt of any vaccine. This is a change as of this year.  

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, do not get a flu vaccine until you talk to a health care provider to help decide whether vaccination is appropriate for you. 

Other Flu Prevention Strategies

Avoid Close Contact with People who are Sick and Stay Home if You’re Sick 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • If you’re sick, avoid contact with people unless you are seeking medical care.  
  • Don’t share glassware, silverware, or personal items with healthy people in your household. 
  • Don’t return to work, school, or other activities until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
  • Call your healthcare provider to see if you should be prescribed medicine for the flu. 

Cover Your Nose and Mouth 

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. 
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cover your cough/sneeze in your elbow or with your sleeve, not your hand. 

Keep Your Hands Clean 

  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from the spread of germs and diseases. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way. 

Keep Your Environment Clean 

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often (such as counters, tables, children’s toys, and surfaces in the bathroom) especially when someone is sick. 
  • Visit CDC’s webpage to learn how to clean and disinfect your home and other settings. 

Flu Prevention Resources 

Page last Updated 5/16/24