Flu: Who should get the flu vaccine

The influenza (flu) vaccine is the best defense against the flu and its complications. Everyone 6 months and older who does not have contraindications to the vaccine should get the flu shot. It can save lives by:

  • Protecting you, if you are exposed to the virus.
  • Preventing you from getting very sick.
  • Protecting people close to you since you are less likely to spread the virus.

The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, especially:

  • People at high risk of complications from the flu.
  • People with health conditions, such as: cancer and other immune compromising conditions; diabetes; heart disease; lung disease; anemia; obesity; kidney disease; neurologic or neurodevelopment conditions.
  • Children up to 18 years of age undergoing long periods of treatment with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).
  • People 65 years and older.
  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
  • Children under 5 years of age (especially those 6-23 months old)
  • Pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant .
  • Indigenous peoples.

People who can pass on the flu virus to those at high risk:

  • Caregivers.
  • Child care providers.
  • Healthcare providers.
  • Family and other household members.
  • Those who provide services in closed or relatively closed settings to people at high risk, such as the crew on a ship.

It’s important you get a flu shot every year, because:

  • The type of flu virus usually changes from year to year.
  • A new vaccine is created every year to protect you each flu season.
  • Antibodies from the flu shot wear off, so you need a new one every year to stay protected.

The flu shot is effective

The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on how well the vaccine matches the circulating flu viruses, as well as the health and age of the person receiving the flu shot.

Those viruses circulating in the population sometimes change in the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not be as effective.

But it is important to remember the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. Even when there is a less-than-ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining two or three viruses. If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of your symptoms.

Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications.

The flu shot is safe

  • Severe reactions are very rare.
  • You can't get the flu from the flu shot.
  • Most people have no side effects from the flu shot.

This season's flu shot will protect you against:

  • Influenza A(H1N1)
  • Influenza A(H3N2)
  • Influenza B