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Concept image of a Calendar with a blue push pin. Closeup shot oThe 2021-22 flu season has officially arrived, and it’s time to start thinking about getting a flu shot. Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months, with flu activity typically beginning to increase in October and November. Flu activity often peaks between December and February.

The flu vaccine isn’t just for children and the elderly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says everyone should think about getting one. Already had a COVID-19 shot? The COVID-19 and flu viruses are different, and so are the shots. Both the flu and COVID-19 can be deadly, and vaccination for each can significantly reduce the likelihood of death. In most cases, you can be vaccinated for both at the same time.

While most people who get the flu recover after plenty of rest and liquids, influenza can be deadly. While the flu shot doesn’t provide total protection against getting the flu, most physicians believe it’s the best way to protect yourself and your family against influenza and any possible complications.

Some people are considered to be at higher risk for serious complications from the flu and should consider getting the shot as soon as possible. This includes pregnant women, children between 6 months and 4 years old, and people over the age of 50. Also, if you live with someone who is in a high-risk category, it is recommended by the CDC that you get the flu shot, too.

People with certain medical conditions are also at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including those with chronic lung diseases, heart disease (except isolated hypertension), kidney disease, liver disorders, neurologic and neuromuscular disorders, blood disorders and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

Call your health care provider to see if getting a flu shot is right for you, and when you should get it. Getting the shot is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu, according to the CDC, in addition to proper handwashing and cleaning/sanitizing.

Can the flu vaccine give you the flu? No. Flu vaccines are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the virus. You may experience side effects from a flu shot, just like you might with the COVID-19 shot. Do you need one every year? Yes. Immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so annual vaccination is needed to get the best protection. Also, flu viruses change over time, and the flu vaccine composition is adapted each year to provide the greatest protection.

It can be difficult to tell if you have a cold, flu or COVID-19. If you do get the flu this fall or winter, be sure to check in with your doctor and follow their instructions.