Protect Yourself This Flu Season

Protect yourself against the seasonal flu by following the same advice you followed last year: Get vaccinated. Everyone who is at least 6 months old should get a flu vaccine this season. 

The 2013-2014 season's flu vaccine will protect against the flu viruses that researchers think will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and 1 or 2 influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine. 

During the flu season, people may be infected by 1 of several strains of influenza viruses (type A or B) that zero in on the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu can make life miserable for 1 to 2 weeks for many people – and deadly for some. Seasonal flu cases can peak anywhere from late December to early March, but flu seasons are unpredictable. They can begin as early as October. 

Your best defense against the flu is to get vaccinated as soon as possible, when the flu vaccine becomes available in your community.    

You can get vaccinated in 1 of 2 ways:

  • With a flu shot, given with a needle. This form of the vaccine contains killed virus and is approved for all people older than 6 months.

  • With a nasal spray vaccine. This form contains live, weakened flu viruses that cannot cause the flu. This form is approved for healthy, nonpregnant people ages 2 to 49 years.

A flu vaccination is most important for:

  • Children ages 6 months to 19 years old

  • Adults ages 50 and older

  • Pregnant women

  • Anyone with certain chronic diseases

  • Anyone who lives in a nursing home or other long-term care site

  • Health care workers

  • People who are in frequent contact with older adults or people who are chronically ill

Some people should not be vaccinated for the flu before talking with their health care provider. These are reasons to talk your doctor:

  • You have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.

  • You have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.

  • You developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of a previous flu vaccine.

Children younger than 6 months old should not get a vaccine against the flu, because the flu vaccines have not been approved for that age group.

To find a flu shot clinic near you, use the American Lung Association's flu clinic locator.