Fight the Flu: Get Vaccinated

Toddler and her toy dog wearing face masks

By: Yogesh Shah, MD, MPH

The seasonal flu shot is a yearly vaccine that protects against influenza, a respiratory viral infection. The CDC has stated that getting a flu shot during the 2020–2021 flu season is "more important than ever in light of the COVID-19 pandemic”. With both the flu and COVID-19 circulating concurrently this fall and winter, it is important for you to get a flu shot to reduce your risk of catching the respiratory flu virus. Vaccinations also reduce a potential burden on the healthcare system as medical providers are responding to the needs of COVID-19 patients.

Flu Vaccination Types

Flu activity usually peaks between December and February; however, the flu can continue to be active as late into the spring as the month of May. The annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, with very few exceptions. There are several types of flu vaccines available this season that have been produced to protect against three (trivalent) or four (quadrivalent) different seasonal influenza viruses. Different flu shots are approved for people of different ages, and everyone should get the vaccine that is appropriate for their age.

1. Standard Dose (SD) — Standard dose flu shots are made from inactivated virus grown in eggs. Most people, even those with an egg allergy, can get a standard flu shot.

2. High Dose (HD) — Shots made with a high dose of inactivated virus (four times higher) are for people 65 years of age and older.

3. Shots made with a virus grown in a culture instead of with eggs are appropriate for someone with a severe egg allergy.

4. Shots made using vaccine production technology (recombinant) that does not require the use of flu virus or eggs are approved for people 18 years of age and older.

5. Nasal spray vaccine utilizes live attenuated influenza vaccine which is made with weakened influenza viruses. This is an option for individuals age two through 49 years of age. This is not for pregnant women.

6. Children younger than six months of age are too young to get a flu shot.

7. Flu shots are recommended for pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. 

When to Get a Flu Vaccine

Ideally, you should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccinations continue throughout flu season, even into January. It is important to protect yourself and minimize your risk of contracting the seasonal upper respiratory virus by getting vaccinated each year. To schedule a time for your flu shot, call your primary care provider.

Learn more about the flu vaccine