Who Needs a Flu Vaccine
For the 2023-2024 flu season for most people, CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine as an option for vaccination. These include:
- injectable flu vaccines, or flu shots. These include:
- Flu shots that are made with inactivated influenza viruses.
- One flu shot that is made without influenza viruses.
- A live attenuated influenza vaccine, which is given by nasal spray.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza. A full listing of people at Higher Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications is available.
Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, visits to doctor’s offices, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as make symptoms less severe and reduce flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different age groups.
- There are several flu shots approved for use in people as young as 6 months old and older, and two are approved only for adults 65 years and older.
- Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in people 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.
There are many vaccine options to choose from.
- For people younger than 65 years, CDC does not recommend any one flu vaccine over another.
- For adults 65 years and older, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent inactivated flu vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted inactivated flu vaccine. If none of the three flu vaccines preferentially recommended for people 65 and older is available at the time of administration, people in this age group can get any other age-appropriate flu vaccine instead.
The most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.
If you have questions about which flu vaccine to get, talk to your doctor or other health care professional. More information is available at Who Should and Who Should NOT Get a Flu Vaccine.
Different influenza (flu) vaccines are approved for use in people in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. More information is available at Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over others?
Yes, for some people. There are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. This recommendation was based on a review of available studies which suggests that, in this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective than standard dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines. There is no preferential recommendation for people younger than 65 years.
What if a preferentially recommended flu vaccine is not available?
If none of the three flu vaccines preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older is available at the time of administration, people in this age group should get any other age-appropriate flu vaccine instead.
People with egg allergy may get any vaccine (egg-based or non-egg-based) that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health status. Previously, it was recommended that people with severe allergy to egg (those who have had any symptom other than hives with egg exposure) be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting. Beginning with the 2023-2024 season, additional safety measures are no longer recommended for flu vaccination of people with an egg allergy beyond those recommended for receipt of any vaccine, regardless of the severity of previous reaction to egg. All vaccines should be given in settings where allergic reactions can be recognized and treated quickly.
When should I get vaccinated against flu?
For most people who need only one dose of flu vaccine for the season, September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. Additional considerations concerning the timing of vaccination for certain groups of people include:
- Most adults, especially those 65 years and older, and pregnant people in the first or second trimester should generally not get vaccinated early (in July or August) because protection may decrease over time. However, early vaccination can be considered for any person who is unable to return at a later time to be vaccinated.
- Some children need two doses of flu vaccine. For those children it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second dose needs to be given at least four weeks after the first. Vaccination during July and August also can be considered for children who need only one dose.
- Vaccination during July and August also can be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy during those months, because this can help protect their infants for the first few months after birth (when they are too young to be vaccinated).