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Know the facts about the flu

NOV 01, 2018
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After a long, relaxing summer, it can feel rough to face the realities of the fall — including the return of the flu. Last season was especially severe, with record-breaking levels of flu-like illness and hospitalizations.1


Here’s the good news: You can do your part to avoid serious illness and make this flu season easier on yourself and your loved ones, just by getting a flu shot.


The earlier, the better


The sooner you get your flu shot, the sooner your body can start building up to full immunity. It takes about 2 weeks after you get vaccinated for your body to develop the antibodies to protect you against the flu virus. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Flu season may peak as early as the holidays, and you want to be prepared.


Who’s at risk?


  • Millions of children get sick with the flu every year. A typical flu illness can mean missing a week or more of school. Once infected, children can spread the flu to family members and friends. And children younger than 5 have a higher risk of developing flu-related complications.
  • Some people are more vulnerable to complications. In addition to young children, people with compromised immune systems, such as chemotherapy patients or the elderly, are more likely to have serious complications from the flu. And they may not be able to get the flu shot themselves. So it’s especially important that the people around them get vaccinated.
  • Pregnant women can protect their babies by getting the flu shot. The immunity you build will pass to your developing baby. Since infants are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu, since they can’t get a flu shot until they’re 6 months old, vaccination during pregnancy is the best way to protect your baby from getting the flu. And the flu shot has been shown to protect both you and your baby from flu for several months after you give birth.2
  • Everyone is at risk of getting the flu. Even healthy people get sick enough to miss significant time from work or school — or be hospitalized. So your entire family needs to get a flu shot every year.

Check out these flu shot facts


Remember that in the worst cases, the flu can actually put your life at risk. Knowing these facts about the flu and the flu shot can help save your life, or the life of someone you love.


  • Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received the flu shot over the last 50 years. There’s also been extensive research supporting the safety of seasonal flu vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The flu shot can help reduce the effects of the flu, even if you or a loved one catches it.
  • The flu shot doesn’t contain an active flu virus, so it can’t give you the flu.
  • You need to get this year’s flu shot for the best protection, since the flu virus changes every year.
  • By getting vaccinated, you also help protect the people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like small children and people with compromised immune systems.

Find out where you can get your flu shot


As a Kaiser Permanente member, you can get a flu shot at no cost. See when and where they’re available near you. For Northern California members, please visit to get information on the flu shot clinic nearest you.


Not a member? You can still get a flu shot. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to locate a nearby flu shot clinic.


If you have more questions about the flu shot, ask your doctor. We’re here to help you stay healthy this flu season.


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, accessed October 23, 2018.

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, accessed August 7, 2018.

TOPICSfallFlu SeasonFlu shot