Flu Vaccination FAQs

The seasonal flu affects tens of thousands of Americans each year. This year, it's possible to get the flu at the same time as COVID-19. Protecting yourself and others is more important than ever. Please do your part by getting a flu shot and following other CDC guidelines. 

Check out our answers to common questions we receive about the flu. Always consult with your Mercy primary care provider regarding your individual health circumstances.

Why are there typically more respiratory illnesses like flu in the winter?

In the winter, we are inside a lot more, giving us more opportunities to pass illnesses to one another. Also, cold air irritates the mucus membranes in the respiratory tract, which makes them more susceptible to invasion by viruses and other respiratory pathogens. This decreases the body’s natural defenses to fight infections. 

How is the flu different from a cold?

What sets the flu apart from a cold is a high fever, around 102 degrees, achiness and overall illness. Vomiting and diarrhea are not part of the seasonal flu.

Why is my child receiving two doses of the flu vaccine?

Children up to 8 years old require two doses of vaccine given about one month apart, but only the first season they are vaccinated. After that, they need only one dose per year.

What are the side-effects of the flu vaccine?

The most common side effects of the flu vaccine are low-grade fever, soreness at the injection site and possibly redness or swelling.

If our family got flu shots last flu season, do we need flu shots this year?

Yes. Getting a flu vaccine in previous years does not protect you from getting the flu in future years. Flu viruses change often and require a new vaccine.

The flu vaccine hasn’t protected me in the past; why should I still get one?

The level of prevention varies each year. If you still end up with the flu, the vaccine will help you by minimizing symptoms of the flu, leading to faster recovery. In addition to receiving a flu shot, remember to wash your hands often; sneeze and cough into your elbow; keep your stress level down; get plenty of sleep; make healthy food choices; exercise; and limit your exposure to people who are sick.

Is it too late to get a flu shot this flu season?

No, it’s not too late. You can get the flu anytime in the year, although we see more cases of the flu between October and as late as April or May. Since there are typically multiple peaks in the flu season, we recommend everyone get a flu shot, especially those at high risk, such as children and the elderly. 

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