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Young, Healthy Adults Need Yearly Flu Shots, Too

If you’re like many young, healthy people, you may wonder whether you really need a yearly flu shot. You might believe that the flu doesn’t pose a threat to you and your family. Or, you might worry that the vaccine itself could give you the flu.

These are common concerns. They help explain why nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults younger than age 50 skip getting a flu shot each year. But here’s the truth: You can’t catch the flu from the flu vaccine. And, you do get important benefits from the vaccine, even if you’re young and healthy. 

Below are three great reasons for getting a flu shot this year—and every year to come.

Reason 1: To Protect Your Own Health

The flu is a viral illness that can cause fever, chills, coughing, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. That’s bad enough! But even worse, the flu sometimes leads to serious complications (such as pneumonia), hospitalization or even death. The flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths each year.

Reason 2: To Cut Down on Sick Days

In the U.S., the flu is responsible for nearly 17 million missed workdays each flu season. If you’re employed, the flu vaccine helps decrease sick days and lost work output. If you’re a student, it helps reduce missed classes and lost academic productivity.

Reason 3: To Protect Those Around You

Maybe you’ve gone years without a flu shot and have never gotten sick. So, why make the trip to the pharmacy or doctor’s office now? Getting vaccinated is about more than just your personal health. By reducing your own chance of catching and spreading the flu virus, you’re helping protect others as well. Some people are particularly vulnerable to serious flu-related problems. They include:

  • Babies
  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Those with certain health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease

When you get the flu vaccine, you’re reducing the risk for your family, friends, and neighbors.

What About Safety Concerns?

In a study of college students, the number one reason cited for not getting a flu shot was fear of being infected by the vaccine. Yet, that’s impossible. Flu vaccines given by shot are made with either deactivated flu viruses or no flu viruses at all.

Some people do experience side effects after getting the flu vaccine, such as a low fever, aches or soreness at the site where the shot was given. These effects are related to the immune response created from the vaccine by your body and not influenza itself. Thus, compared with a bad case of the flu, these side effects are mild, and they pass quickly.

Getting your flu shot every year is the best way to protect your community and avoid catching a miserable case of the flu. To find a location offering flu shots near you, ask your healthcare provider. Or, visit cdc.gov/flu and click on “VaccineFinder.”

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