Know who should and should not get vaccinated
For some people, decisions around getting a flu vaccine may revolve around convenience—such as finding a place or a time in their schedules for a flu shot. Others may have age or health considerations that may cause them to wonder whether they should or can get vaccinated.
If you fall into the latter group—if you’re wondering, “Should I get a flu shot? Can I get a flu shot?”—you should talk to your doctor or another health care provider about your concerns. Regardless, it might help you to know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance as to who should and who should not receive an influenza vaccine.
As a general rule, the CDC recommends that everyone who is six months and older get a flu vaccine. There are a few exceptions, including anyone who has had a severe, life-threatening allergic response to any flu vaccine ingredient, not including egg proteins, as well as those who have had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine.
Aside from this, there are recommendations for who should and should not get vaccinated according to the ways you can receive a flu vaccine—through a flu shot or a nasal spray vaccine.
Flu shot (injectable vaccines) recommendations
There are two kinds of flu shots: Inactivated and recombinant vaccines, which are made using different vaccine technologies. Age can play a factor in whether you can have one or the other of these vaccines. For example, some standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines are approved for use in children who are six months old. Other vaccines are only available for use in adults. Make sure you get a flu vaccine that is appropriate for your age. According to the CDC, an adjuvanted flu shot or a higher dose flu shot is preferentially recommended over a standard-dose flu vaccine in adults 65 years and older.
Pregnant people, people with certain chronic conditions, and those who have egg allergies can get a flu shot. However, any known severe, life-threatening allergy to any flu vaccine ingredient (aside from egg proteins) means you should not get a vaccine with that ingredient. Also, if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine, you shouldn’t get that particular vaccine again—or, potentially, other flu vaccines. Make sure you consult a doctor or another health care provider for help in deciding which vaccine, if any, is appropriate for you.
You should also talk to your doctor before getting a flu shot if you have other medical considerations. These include an allergy to any flu shot ingredient or eggs; most people who have an egg allergy can get a flu shot, but they should still talk to a doctor before getting one. A history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing condition), a past severe allergic reaction to a dose of any flu vaccine or even not feeling well in general—these are things that should prompt you to talk to your doctor before getting a flu shot, too.