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Vaccination Facts

Influenza vaccine is the best way to prevent illness.  Because the strains of influenza that are circulating change, a person needs a flu vaccine every year to be protected.  Anyone concerned about being ill with influenza or transmitting infection to others should get vaccinated.

Why should I get a vaccine?
Vaccination offers the best protection against influenza! Influenza appears in Boston every year causing illness in thousands of people.  Each year a new flu vaccine is created to protect against the top three to four strains of influenza that are expected to be circulating in the community. Since the strains change each year, you need to get a vaccine each year to be fully protected.  

Influenza can’t be that serious, can it?
Yes, influenza is unpredictable and can be severe. Between 1976 and 2006, CDC estimates that from 3,000 to 49,000 people died each year of complications from influenza. In 2012-2013, 149 children in the US died from influenza.

Who should get a flu vaccine?
A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu.  It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine. A person needs to get a flu vaccine every year to be protected. 

When should I get the vaccine?
Influenza activity in the Boston area is usually highest from October through March, but influenza is unpredictable. Getting a vaccine early in the flu season can provide longer protection against the virus however, vaccines are available all season. Adults and older children will only need one dose of vaccine to be protected; some children under 9 will need two doses. Check with your doctor to make sure.

Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
Influenza vaccines cannot give you the flu. However, you should keep in mind that it takes two weeks after getting vaccinated to be fully protected against the flu.  Be sure to take other precautions against getting the flu during this time. 

How can I prevent the spread of flu?
There are many ways you can help prevent the spread of germs. In addition to getting the flu vaccine, follow these tips:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean surfaces in your home regularly with a household cleaner.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick when possible.
  • If you become sick, stay home.  It is recommended that you stay at home for 24 hours after your fever has gone away without the use of fever reducing medicine. For most people, this will be a minimum of 4 days.

Ask your doctor for a flu vaccine or click here to find a retail pharmacy offering flu vaccines near you. Please note that pharmacists in Massachusetts can only vaccinate those who are 18 years old and older. Please call ahead to confirm the pharmacy has vaccine available.

For information on flu clinics, click here.

Click here for the flu vaccine fact sheet.

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: