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What’s the Best Time of the Year to Get a Flu Shot?

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Who should get vaccinated?

Almost everyone aged 6 months or older can benefit from being vaccinated against the flu.

Some people are at an increased risk of serious flu complications, including those who are:

  • younger than 2 or older than 65
  • pregnant
  • living in a long-term care facility

People with the following conditions may also be at a higher risk of flu complications:

  • asthma
  • cancer
  • chronic lung disease
  • diabetes or other endocrine disorder
  • heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • HIV or AIDS
  • metabolic syndrome
  • a neurologic condition
  • obesity
  • sickle cell disease or other blood disorder
  • suppressed immune system

The flu vaccine is safe for most people who are pregnant or have a chronic health condition.

You can get a flu vaccine by injection or nasal spray.

There are several different vaccines, and some are recommended specifically for people:

  • 65 years and older
  • who are allergic to eggs
  • between 6 months and 65 years who aren’t allergic to eggs

If you’re currently feeling sick, it’s best to wait until you’re better.

Avoid the flu shot if you have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients that may be used in the vaccine, such as:

  • egg protein
  • thimerosal, a preservative
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG), a stabilizer that keeps vaccines from losing their potency
  • antibiotics, such as neomycin and gentamicin
  • polysorbate 80, an emulsifier which keeps the ingredients from separating
  • formaldehyde, which inactivates the flu virus

Babies under 6 months old shouldn’t be vaccinated.

If you’ve had Guillain-Barré syndrome, talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine.

The nasal spray contains a weakened live virus. It shouldn’t be taken by people who:

  • are younger than 2 or older than 50 years
  • are 2 to 4 years old and have asthma
  • are 2 to 17 years old and take medications containing aspirin or salicylate
  • are pregnant
  • have life threatening allergies to the flu vaccine
  • have a suppressed immune system
  • are in close contact with someone with a suppressed immune system
  • have taken antiviral drugs for the flu within the previous 48 hours

Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of the nasal spray vaccine if you have:

  • asthma or chronic lung disease
  • a blood disorder
  • diabetes or other metabolic disorders
  • heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • a neurologic or neuromuscular disorder

 

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