Seasonal Flu: Vaccine and Prevention

Everyone 6 months and older should get a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccination each year. Seasonal flu vaccines are safe and the most effective way to protect yourself against getting sick.

To maintain your protection, you need a flu vaccine each year. It is best to get vaccinated in the fall, but you can be vaccinated through late spring.

Flu vaccines are widely available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, community health clinics and through employer-sponsored programs. Most health insurance plans cover flu vaccination without a co-pay. There are also many ways for New Yorkers without health insurance to get low-cost vaccines, including at NYC H+H sites.



Be sure to call ahead to check for vaccine availability.

Influenza germs are highly contagious and easily transmitted through contact with an infected person who is coughing and sneezing. In addition to getting vaccinated, you can prevent the flu by washing your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.

High-Risk Groups

Everyone should get the flu vaccine every year. People in the following groups are more likely to get severely sick and have complications from seasonal flu, so it is especially important for them to get vaccinated.

  • Children younger than 5, especially those under 2
  • People 50 and older, especially those 65 and older
  • Pregnant people
  • People with any of these medical conditions, which can increase the risk of complications from flu:
    • Asthma, emphysema or any other chronic breathing disorders
    • Heart, kidney or liver disease
    • Blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia
    • Weakened immune system, from illness or medication
    • Neuromuscular disorders that interfere with breathing or the discharge of mucus
    • Long-term aspirin therapy in people under 19
    • Obesity (a Body Mass Index of 40 and over)
  • People living in nursing homes or other care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives

You should also be sure to get vaccinated every year if you are a health care worker or caregiver/close contact of people who belong to a high-risk group. Those who care for children, especially infants younger than 6 months, should also get vaccinated annually.

Flu Vaccine and COVID-19

People who are more likely to become seriously ill and have complications from COVID-19 should be vaccinated against seasonal flu. Receiving the flu vaccine can lower your chances of getting seasonal flu and needing flu-related medical care during the pandemic. People who fall into this high-risk category include:

  • Older adults, especially those 65 and older
  • Residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Persons of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions
  • Black and Latino New Yorkers, who have disproportionately suffered severe COVID-19 illness and deaths

Essential workers should also receive a seasonal flu vaccine. This includes:

  • Healthcare personnel, including nursing home, long-term care facility and pharmacy staff
  • Other critical infrastructure workforce, particularly if their job requires regular interaction with the public and others

Flu Vaccine is Safe

Flu vaccines have been monitored for safety for decades. They can cause mild side effects, but serious reactions are rare.

Common reactions include:

  • Soreness, redness or swelling at the site of injection
  • Fever
  • Aches

Vaccinations for Children and Older Adults

Children

Between July 1 and December 31, all children ages 6 months to 59 months must receive one dose of flu vaccine if they attend day care, Head Start, pre-K or nursery school. Some children younger than 9 years old may need two doses. Ask your health care provider what your child needs this year.

Older Adults

People 65 and older may get any licensed, age-appropriate vaccine.

There are two flu vaccines specifically made for adults 65 and older that the NYC Health Department recommends: a high-dose flu vaccine and an adjuvanted flu vaccine. Ask your doctor for more information about these vaccines.

People Who Should Check with a Provider Before Getting the Vaccine

It is recommended that nearly everyone gets the flu vaccine. However, if you have one of the following conditions, you may be at risk for complications and should talk to your provider before getting the vaccine:

If you have severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine, you should not get the flu vaccination.

Other Flu Prevention Tips

In addition to getting vaccinated, here are some tips to help you avoid getting or spreading seasonal flu:

Flu Prevention Information for Employers

Employers should be familiar with simple measures to reduce the risk of flu infection in the workplace and prepare for the impact of illness. Learn more about how you can keep your workplace healthy:

Additional Resources

More Information