Post Content

Donna Lazorik Posted by Donna Lazorik, RN, MS. Donna is the Immunization Coordinator in the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The flu can make anyone sick, but for people with long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, flu can be much more serious. African-Americans are more likely to live with these chronic conditions – which is why it’s especially important for them to get vaccinated against the flu.

Yet every year we see lower rates for flu vaccination among African-Americans than their white and Hispanic counterparts. We’re working hard to change this, by letting people know the facts about how safe and effective the flu vaccine is.

First, health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say a flu vaccine is the first and best way to guard against the flu – and they recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year.

So why are some people reluctant to get vaccinated against the flu?

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Yes. Both seasonal flu vaccines (the flu shot and nasal spray) have excellent safety records, and continue to be monitored for safety – year in and year out. The most common side effects reported after flu vaccination are minor, and are far outweighed by the vaccine’s benefits. Millions of flu vaccines have been given safely over the years, and vaccine safety remains a priority every single year.

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

It’s also important to know that the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Why? Because the flu shot contains killed viruses, and the nasal spray has weakened viruses that cannot cause illness. If you get flu-like symptoms soon after getting vaccinated, it can mean you may have been exposed to the flu before getting vaccinated, or during the two-week period it takes the body to gain protection after vaccination. It might also mean you are sick with another illness that causes symptoms similar to the flu.

I got my flu shot last year, so do why do I need another one this year?

When you get a flu shot, your body develops defenses against the most common flu viruses that are going around during that flu season. But those defenses eventually wear off  – which is why it’s important get the latest flu vaccine every flu season.

Remember, the flu can be especially serious for babies, children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with certain long-term medical conditions. However, even healthy people can get the flu and should protect themselves by getting the flu vaccine every year.

So please don’t wait – get vaccinated today! Contact your health care provider to make an appointment, or find a flu clinic in your area using this online flu clinic database.

Written By:


health communication writer and editor

Recent Posts

Weekly Flu Report, February 17, 2017 posted on Feb 17

Rates of flu-like illness have risen over the past seven days, according to the latest weekly flu report. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, it’s not too late – there’s still plenty of flu vaccine available. Call your health care provider or local board   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, February 17, 2017

Love Your Heart This Valentine’s Day! posted on Feb 14

Love Your Heart This Valentine’s Day!

By Eliza Mellion, M.S. This Valentine’s Day, don’t forget that—thanks to the American Heart Association—February is American Heart Month! It can be hard to resist the chocolates, candy hearts, and pink-frosted cupcakes that this holiday brings.  While it’s fun to shower our loved ones with   …Continue Reading Love Your Heart This Valentine’s Day!

Weekly Flu Report, February 10, 2017 posted on Feb 10

Rates of flu-like illness continued to increase over the past seven days, according to the latest weekly flu report. The good news is that there is still time to protect yourself this flu season by getting a flu shot. There is plenty of vaccine available –   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, February 10, 2017