The Flu Vaccine
The best way to prevent or lessen the severity of the flu is to get a flu shot each fall.
You cannot get the flu from a seasonal vaccine. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received flu shots. If you’re worried about shots, you may take the nasal spray.
Types of Flu Vaccines
There are 2 types of flu vaccines:
- The “flu shot” is an inactivated (or killed) vaccine given with a needle, usually in the arm.
- The nasal flu spray vaccine (also referred to as LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”) is an attenuated (or weakened) vaccine taken via a spray in the nose.
Scientists make a different flu vaccine every year because the strains of influenza viruses change from year to year. Nine to ten months before the flu season begins, a new vaccine is made from inactivated (killed) influenza viruses. Because the viruses have been killed, they cannot cause infection. The flu vaccine preparation is based on the strains of the flu viruses that are in circulation at the time. It includes those influenza Type A and Type B viruses expected to circulate the following winter.
Sometimes a new strain appears after the vaccine has been made and distributed to doctors’ offices and clinics. As a result, you still may get infected even if you get a flu shot.
Flu Fighter Coloring Book
Track the Flu
Enter your ZIP code below to track the flu level in your area.
See our YouTube videos!
Learn more about Flu prevention on YouTube. Watch our videos >
Stop the Flu
There are prescription medicines that can help prevent you from getting the flu — or shorten the duration if you already have it.
Learn more ›
Are You “That Guy”?
If you think you have the flu, do the right thing. Watch the video ›
Sponsored by the NFID (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)
Tips to Stay Flu-Free
Good preventive health habits, an annual flu vaccine, and prescription antivirals can help keep you and your family flu-free — all year long!
Learn more ›
Get FluF.A.C.T.S. Alerts
Is It Flu?
You have sudden fever, aches, chills, and tiredness.
What to do?
Check your symptoms ›