Influenza Vaccination: Prevent the Flu with Vaccination

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

VDH and CDC recommend yearly influenza vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting yourself and your loved ones from influenza illness. Annual seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu illness can spread through the community.

Influenza Vaccine Recommendations

All people 6 months of age and older are recommended to receive an influenza vaccination each year. Depending on the vaccine types available to you, the 2017-2018 vaccine will protect against either three or four different influenza viruses.

Vaccination is especially important for certain people who are at “high risk” of serious complications from seasonal flu. People at high risk include adults age 65 years and older, children younger than five years of age, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.

In addition, people who live with or care for persons who are at increased risk of developing serious complications should be vaccinated. This includes household contacts and caregivers of young children (especially infants less than 6 months of age) and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

The best time to get vaccinated is as soon as the vaccine is available, which is often as early as August. Protection from the vaccine occurs within two weeks of vaccination and lasts throughout the flu season. If you don’t get it right away, you can still get vaccinated through the fall, winter, or spring since flu season usually peaks in January or February but often continues through May.

Children aged 6 months through 8 years of age who have never received a seasonal flu vaccine need two doses of vaccine spaced at least 4 weeks apart. This flu season, other children in this age group may need two doses as well. For individuals 9 years of age and older, only one dose of vaccine is needed each flu season regardless of how early the vaccine is given.

Types of Influenza Vaccine Available

There are two primary types of vaccine, inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), also known as the “flu shot”, and live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the nasal-spray flu vaccine.

  • The “flu shot” is an inactivated vaccine (made with killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age or older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • The nasal spray flu vaccine is made with live, weakened 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 is approved for use in healthy people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
    • Note: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) continues the recommendation that the intranasal live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), commonly known as “Flu Mist”, should not be used during the upcoming season.

A number of different manufacturers produce influenza vaccines for the U.S. market. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine which vaccine may be best for you. Most of the flu vaccine offered for the 2017-2018 season will be quadrivalent (protects against four influenza viruses). Some seasonal flu vaccines will be formulated to protect against three flu viruses (trivalent flu vaccines). For many vaccine recipients, more than one type or brand of vaccine may be appropriate. Where more than one type of vaccine is appropriate and available, VDH and CDC make no preferential recommendation for use of any influenza vaccine product over another.

  • Vaccines Approved for the 2017-2018 Season (CDC) – table of available vaccine products. Includes age indication, presence of latex, and method of administration, as well as other relevant information.

2017-2018 Influenza Vaccine Composition

While there are many types of flu viruses, flu vaccine protects against the three or four types of flu viruses that are most likely to be circulating during the current flu season.

The 2017-2018 trivalent influenza vaccines protect against the following three viruses:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (Victoria lineage).

The quadrivalent vaccines protect against four viruses: the three viruses above as well as a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (Yamagata Lineage), for a total of two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

Questions and Answers about Influenza Vaccine

Influenza Vaccination Resources for Healthcare Professionals

Handouts for Patients and Staff

  • Influenza Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) – large print and foreign language versions are also available here
  • Influenza Handouts (IAC) – influenza-specific educational materials for healthcare professionals and their patients including information on cocooning, guidelines for determining number of doses needed, screening checklists for contraindications, templates for standing orders, and more from the Immunization Action Coalition

Clinical Resources

Talking About Influenza Vaccination



Influenza Vaccination Videos and Podcasts


Where to Get Vaccinated

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college/university health centers. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, such as at a health department or pharmacy. Individuals who lack health insurance should contact their local health department to inquire about flu vaccination clinics.

Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate where you can get a flu shot.


Influenza Vaccination Coverage

  • FluVaxView (CDC) – estimates of annual influenza vaccination coverage for the United States utilizing data from several nationally representative surveys.