Search IconSearch

Why You Need a Flu Shot (and When To Get It)

Prevention is best against this serious illness

Masked person receiving vaccine shot in their shoulder

Healthcare providers across the country are bracing for another season of treating respiratory viruses like the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

And while the flu might not seem like something to worry about, it’s a virus we should all be prepared for. So, you may be wondering, Should I get a flu shot?

“Influenza is a very serious disease, and during a normal flu season, around 40,000 or more people die from it,” says infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD. “So, with any preventable disease, we should do everything we can to protect ourselves.”

Getting your flu vaccine is vital to not just keeping you and your family healthy, but also relieving our over-burdened healthcare system.

To learn more about the importance of getting the flu vaccine, we talked to Dr. Englund, along with infectious disease clinical pharmacist Kaitlyn Rivard, PharmD.

Why the vaccine matters

First of all, Dr. Englund notes that it’s just good practice to get a flu shot every year. She adds that the vaccine’s prevention-geared properties are key.

“When people get influenza or get the flu, it’s not only just the symptoms that they have, like a cough, fever and an infection in the lungs,” she says. “It taxes the body and really puts a lot of stress on all of the other systems.”

That can cause some serious complications, she continues. “You can have a heart attack or even a stroke as a side effect from having influenza. So, we want to make sure that we’re keeping everybody healthy from all of these complications.”

Dr. Englund says that a flu shot is especially important this year because other respiratory viruses like COVID-19 and RSV will be circulating.


“We’re going to have influenza, RSV and COVID-19 coexisting and there’s a lot of overlap between the symptoms,” she states. “We also anticipate that there will be some people who have co-infections, which could be difficult.”

When to get the flu vaccine

We bet you’re now wondering: So, when should I get a flu shot?

Dr. Englund and Dr. Rivard advise getting a flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. Many healthcare providers, including the Cleveland Clinic, begin offering the flu vaccine at the beginning of September.

And in case you were wondering, the flu vaccine doesn’t interfere with the COVID-19 vaccine or the RSV vaccine.

“All available COVID-19 and RSV vaccines can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine,” clarifies Dr. Rivard. “If someone is coming in for their flu shot and they’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine or RSV vaccine but haven’t received it yet, we can offer that. In fact, both the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend co-administering almost any two vaccines together.”

She adds that there are very few instances in which certain vaccines can’t be administered at the same time, noting that children often receive multiple vaccines during one visit to their pediatrician.

And there’s no concern about overloading our immune systems with multiple vaccines.

“We’re exposed to things that stimulate our immune system all the time,” Dr. Englund says. “Our immune system is constantly responding to various exposures even if you don’t realize it.”

Why it’s important to get a flu shot every year

One reason it’s so important to get your annual flu shot is this: Protecting yourself is a lot easier than treating the flu.

“There are some treatments available for the flu that are evolving,” Dr. Englund says. “But to avoid the disease altogether or to only have a mild case because you’ve been vaccinated is much better than trying to treat it. Prevention is best.”

And that goes equally for kids — it’s also crucial to get them vaccinated for the flu.

“It’s important for children to get the flu vaccine, too, because the circulation of flu in children, if nothing else, puts adults at risk, too,” emphasizes Dr. Englund.

Influenza is a serious disease and it’s unpredictable, and otherwise healthy children are unfortunately hospitalized and die every year because of it. So, even for normal, healthy children, it’s really important to get vaccinated every year.”


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Healthcare provider apply bandaid on patient's arm after a shot
What You Need To Know About MS and Vaccines

Most routine vaccines are safe for people living with multiple sclerosis — but be sure to talk with your care team about your needs

Woman with protective face mask huddling on floor while flu spores float around in the air.
Here’s How Dangerous the Flu Can Be

Influenza puts stress on your body and can lead to serious conditions like pneumonia or stroke

Person in doctor's office getting vaccinated.
Flu Shot Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

6 excuses for not getting an annual flu shot that just don’t hold up

preparing flu shot for child in doctor's office
September 15, 2022/Children's Health
Does My Child Need a Flu Shot This Year?

Getting vaccinated prevents the spread of illness

Child receiving Covid-19 booster shot from a healthcare worker.
September 8, 2022/Infectious Disease
What To Know About COVID-19 Booster Shots for Children

Vaccination is important because immunity wanes over time and reinfections are possible

Person is getting a flu shot at a clinic by a nurse.
Can the Flu Shot Give You the Flu?

The vaccine is a safe, effective way to prevent influenza — and it won’t give you the virus

Sick before flu shot
Is Getting a Flu Shot While Sick Risky?

Here's when you should — and shouldn't — postpone your annual flu shot

getting a flu vaccine
Can You Get a Flu Shot If You’re Allergic to Eggs?

The guidelines have changed — here's what you should know

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims