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Making time for a flu shot protects you and others

August 15, 2023

When it comes to the flu, the best way to protect yourself — and others — is by getting a flu shot in early fall. Here’s what you need to know about the flu vaccine.​

Who should get a flu vaccine?

A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for most people ages six months and older.1 Flu shots are available for children, adults, and seniors.​

When is the best time to be vaccinated?

September and October are the best times to get a flu shot, before the flu season starts in your community. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect, so the earlier you get it, the earlier you and your family are protected.2 The timing and severity of the flu varies each year, but it’s better to be prepared and protected so you don’t miss any holiday fun.

What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?

The vaccine is an important part of preventing the flu. It protects you, friends, family, and others around you, especially those who are high risk. This includes babies, young children, older adults, pregnant people, and anyone with a chronic health condition, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease.1

Flu vaccine myths vs. facts3

Here are some of the most common myths around getting a flu shot.

Flu Myths Flu Facts
The flu shot never works. You are 40%-60% less likely to get the flu with a flu shot.4 It can also lower the severity of sickness and reduce the needing to go to the doctor or hospital.
The flu shot can give me the flu. The flu shot cannot give you the flu. The virus in the vaccine is not active, so it can't infect you. 
The flu shot will make me feel sick. Most people have no symptoms from the flu shot except for soreness or redness at the injection site. You might develop other side effects such as headache, fever, tiredness, and muscle aches.5 These symptoms are usually mild and will go away within a few days.
The only way to get a flu vaccine is through a shot. As an alternative to a shot, there is a nasal spray vaccine that's approved for use in healthy, non-pregnant, ages 2-49 years old. People with certain medical conditions should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if this is a good option for you.
It's best to wait to get a flu shot so I'm covered until the end of the flu season. It's better to have your flu shot by September or October because it takes about two weeks for the body to build antibodies to the virus. That way, you'll be protected through the flu season, or about six months.
I never get the flu, so I don't need a vaccine. The shot not only protects you, but it also protects others because you're less likely to spread the flu.

Find a flu shot near you

To find a pharmacy or doctor near home or work, use the Find Care feature on our SydneySM Health mobile app or at Most pharmacies and some doctors have evening and weekend hours for walk-ins or appointments.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Who Needs a Flu Vaccine (accessed June 2023):
2 Mayo Clinic: Flu shot: Your Best Bet for Avoiding Influenza (accessed June 2023):
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Misconceptions About Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines (accessed June 2023): 
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do Flu Vaccines Work? (accessed June 2023):
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Flu Vaccine Safety Information (accessed June 2023):
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