A flu vaccine FAQ

Blurry image of woman's arm with vaccination in foreground.

Why should I get a flu shot?

Flu vaccines are a good idea every year. They protect you, your family and your local community. This year, they matter more than ever:

  • The fewer people who get the flu, the better hospitals can focus on taking care of patients with COVID-19.
  • People who get the flu shot are less likely to get the flu. If you do get the flu, you are more likely to have mild symptoms.
  • Flu and COVID-19 symptoms are similar. That could delay getting you the right kind of care.
  • It is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could lead to more serious symptoms.
  • The flu vaccine is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks or other cardiac events, especially for those who have had a cardiac event in the past year.

Who should get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot, including:

  • People age 65 or older. If you are 65+, we recommend the high dose flu vaccine.
  • Children age six months and up. Check out OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital’s guidance on the flu vaccine for kids.
  • People who are pregnant. If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk of worse symptoms or hospitalization if you get the flu. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy will also protect your baby. Since they can’t get a flu vaccine until they are six months old, your maternal antibodies are important to provide flu protection in those early months.

I heard that you can get the flu from a flu vaccine. Is that true?

No. The vaccine takes up to two weeks to be at its maximum ability to protect, so it’s possible to get the flu after getting the vaccine, but the vaccine does NOT cause the flu.

Less than 1% of people will develop symptoms like mild fever and muscle ache after a flu vaccine. Those reactions are NOT the same as having the flu.

Learn more about flu symptoms, treatment and prevention.