About National Influenza Vaccination Week

CDC established National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond.

NIVW 2019 was observed from December 1-7

NIVW Timing

Previous flu vaccination coverage data have shown that few people get vaccinated against influenza- after the end of November.

  • CDC and its partners choose December for NIVW to remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine.
  • As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against flu.
  • Vaccination efforts should continue through the holiday season and beyond. It’s not too late to vaccinate.
  • While vaccination is recommended before the end of October, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial during most seasons for people who have put it off.
  • Even if have already gotten sick with flu, you can still benefit from vaccination since many different flu viruses spread during flu season and most flu vaccine protects against four different flu viruses.
The burden of flu

Flu isn’t a “bad cold” and can result in serious health complications, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, and can lead to hospitalization. Flu can sometimes even lead to death.

  • Most people who get flu will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop serious flu complications
  • All people are at risk of developing serious flu complications and certain groups are at higher risk. For people at higher risk, flu is more likely to lead to serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, and people 65 years and older.
  • Anyone who gets flu can pass it to someone at high risk of severe illness, including children younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine.
The Many Benefits of Flu Vaccination

There are many reasons to get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year. Below is a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination, and selected scientific studies that support these benefits.

  • Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
    • Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2017-2018, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.2 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million influenza-associated medical visits, 91,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths.
    • During seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults, and older adults.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
    • Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by about one-half.
    • A 2018 studyexternal icon that included influenza seasons from 2010-2016 showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent.
    • A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated.
  • Flu vaccine can be life-saving in children.
    • A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu.
  • Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
    • A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.
    • A 2018 studyexternal icon showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent 4 fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

*References for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits. Also, see the A Strong Defense Against Flu: Get Vaccinated! pdf icon[237 KB, 2 pages] fact sheet.

NIVW Key Messages & Free Resources

CDC has developed a number of tools and materials for organizations across the country to support their vaccination efforts during National Influenza Vaccination Week.